Interpreting discourse is the process of understanding language beyond its sentence-level meaning, and it involves analyzing how different linguistic elements work together to convey a message. Some important concepts related to discourse analysis include:
1. Cohesion: Cohesion refers to the ways in which different parts of a text are connected to each other. Cohesive devices include conjunctions, pronouns, and lexical items such as repetition, alliteration, and parallelism. For example, in the sentence “She gave him a book, and he thanked her,” the conjunction “and” creates cohesion between the two clauses.
2. Coherence: Coherence refers to the overall sense of unity and purpose that a text conveys. Coherence is achieved through a combination of factors, including the logical organization of ideas, the use of appropriate language and style, and the effective use of cohesive devices. For example, in a well-written essay, each paragraph should build on the previous one and contribute to the overall argument.
3. Hedges: Hedges are linguistic devices used to indicate uncertainty or lack of commitment in what is being said. For example, words like “probably” or “possibly” are hedges that indicate that the speaker is not entirely certain about the truth of a statement.
4. Implicatures: Implicatures are implied meanings that are not explicitly stated in a text but are inferred by the reader or listener. Implicatures can be conveyed through various linguistic devices, including indirect speech acts, presuppositions, and implicature markers. For example, the statement “I didn’t see him at the party” can imply that the speaker was at the party.
5. Schemas and scripts: Schemas and scripts are mental structures that represent our knowledge about the world and how it works. In discourse analysis, these concepts are used to explain how we use our knowledge of typical situations to interpret and make sense of discourse. For example, a script for going to a restaurant might include the steps of entering, being seated, ordering food, and paying the bill.