Two trends in Text Linguistics as viewed by T.M. Nikolaeva

Two trends in Text Linguistics as viewed by T.M. Nikolaeva

Russian scholars are also interested in general tendencies of the development of the theory of a text. T.M. Nikolaeva, estimating the modern state of Text Linguistics, postulates the existence of two trends in it. At the same time, she especially emphasizes the circumstance that both trends have common laws of connectedness and common orientation at text integrity.

The first trend, according to T.M. Nikolaeva, is characterized by the interest of the scholars in the discovery (revealing) of semantic components, which are connected with the ensuring of adequate communication and “correct” text construction in general. It is a more general branch of Text Linguistics. Semantic differences in the usage of components of the utterances, which ensure successful communication – articles, possessive and demonstrative pronouns, modal-communicative particles, aspects of verbs,’ etc are studied here.

The second trend in Text Linguistics (it has a more special (specific) character) is engaged in the exposure of deep senses, which are contained in a certain closed text. This trend is rather close to hermeneutics (an interpreter: from Hermes (Mercury) – patron of translators; the art or science of interpretation, especially applied to the Scriptures), which is known to be engaged in the interpretation of not obvious, hidden sense. However, in both cases Text Linguistics studies the problem of choice of a certain form out of the two equally possible in one text.

The last principle may be illustrated by the following examples from the English and Ukrainian languages. Let us compare the two sentences which differ from each other in only one grammatical form — the form of an article (definite — indefinite), placed before a noun which is the subject of the sentence.

The door opened, and a girl entered the room.

The door opened, and the girl entered the room.

Двері розчинилися, і до кімнати увійшла дівчина.

Двері розчинилися, і дівчина увійшла до кімнати.

The choice of the article fully depends on the logics of text development: an indefinite article testifies to the fact that the noun girl is an element of rheme, and the definite article allows associating (his word with theme (in Ukrainian variant this function is carried out by the word order).

A thorough investigation of the above-mentioned approaches makes it possible, to single out two tendencies in the linguistic description of a text. The first tendency originated from semiotics: it is based on the famous statement of Charles Morris that there are three branches .of semiotics: syntax, semantics and pragmatics. W. Heinemann’s approach fully corresponds to this tendency. Petofi and K. Brinker’s views partly correspond to it In the research of these scholars a special emphasis is laid on one of the branches of semiotics – pragmatics, which is, as it has been mentioned above, a characteristic feature of modern linguistic study.

The second tendency is based upon traditional differentiation in the study of. language of general and special linguistics. E. Coseriu defines the subject of “Linguistics of Sense” as the search of universal  characteristics  of texts  irrespective  of any  specific language; compare with the basic directive of general linguistics to concentrate on the study of language in general, of its nature and essence. Accordingly, Text Linguistics is concerned particularly with either the study of peculiarities of a text construction in a certain language (E. Coseriu’s “Text Grammar”) or the revelation of hidden semantic relations contained, in. some closed text (the point of view of T.M. Nikolaeva). At the same time, concentration upon the description of one specific language (including texts in this language) forms the subject of special linguistics.

It is interesting that the authors of the edited collection (team study) “The Aspects of General and Special Linguistic Theory of a Text” (1982) promote a similar ground to oppose general and special Text Linguistics. In their approach, they appeal to the way in which grammar was formed: as the primary basis for. the development of linguistic knowledge: any general theory develops on the basis of facts provided by special (narrow) investigations (research).

Moreover, they emphasize that the process of singling out general theoretical problems may take place only when the sufficient amount of information supplied by special (narrow) theory is already available. They suggest that such an approach should be as well applied to the theory of the text.