About the Formation of the Pragmatic Coherence of the Discourse

Coherence is the object of the linguistic study of a text. The theoretics of the literature do not argue, that coherence must be considered in the process of the interpretation of the text, because it stipulates the connectivity of the text and the perception of two sentences as a whole one. It's known, that the following two possibilities of the text connectivity are discussed in the literary studies: contensive-semantic and formal-grammatical. The text is coherent if two devices (uniting the sentences) are used. The given paper makes an attempt to present some questions connected with the integration of discourse in the coherent integrity.    

The creation and interpretation of textual schemes are connected with the problem of integration of expressions containing the particular semantic information in a coherent integrity. A speaking subject has to consider his/her experience while choosing appropriate concepts and events and give the information to the audience/listener for ensuring its full perception.  In the given process, a listener applies to the coherent representation of the speaker's information. On the one hand, this application implies its availability, while on the other hand, it implies the construction of the concepts, which are identical to the speaker's ones. This is the way of construction and interpretation of textual schemes, which is discussed as a problem of integration of the knowledge.  

The relationship between a discourse and a structure of the text and the relationship between their recycling in one's mind and conservation of the information became the subject of interest. Even in the 19th century, during the discussion of the "psychological question" (in connection with the concept of the theme), a famous German linguist Hans Georg Conon von der Gabelentz and other scientists applied to the primitive ideas of attention. A psychologist Staut explained the linguistic behavior in relation with the mental activity [Lambrecht, 1994; Gundel, 1974]. In their theoretical researches, modern linguists apply to the cognitive concepts, especially, to the ideas of activation (of memory) and attention.

The discussion of the semantic theory of discourse considers several important questions. Firstly, a speaker has to create a particular form/image of the conceptual representation of an engraved object. This representation is a fundamental "meaning", which is "worked out" by the speaker during the process of speaking. In many cases, linguists consider a conceptual representation as a set of ideas and call it a textual representation or a textual basis [Kintsch, 1974; Kintsch, van Dijk, 1983]. Hence, a conceptual representation is not based only on the ideas. For example, a conceptual representation of drinking coffee may greatly differ from the representation of listening to music, while the latter can be different from the changing the speed of a car [Russell S. Tomlin..., 1997]. Therefore, we can create conceptual representations and "call" them from the memory and perceptive experience.

It's worth mentioning, that the content of a discourse is not presented only by conceptual representations. A speaker has to choose the information from the integrity of the conceptual representation for creating a text according to it. A speaker chooses the information which seems important for the listener for perceiving a content of the discourse adequately. The method of having and conveying information plays an important role in the construction and comprehension of the discourse. Its correct "management" comprises four independent problems:

  1. A speaker never applies to the aimless conceptual representation via a spoken language. He/she always has a particular aim, sometimes several of them.
  2. A speaker is limited by rhetoric purposes. He/she chooses dynamically an addressee and the conveyed information, while using a conceptual representation. A speaker decides which referent or consideration is central and more important during the creation of a discourse. Such position of a speaker helps a listener to create his/her own conceptual representation. Therefore, in the initial position, central referents and considerations determine a specificity of the thematic organization of a discourse, while associate pragmatic concepts and processes are discussed as constituent parts of the thematic management.
  3. Simultaneously with a thematic management, a speaker observes in dynamics, which idea is known to the listener (the so-called implied ideas) and which one needs a presentation (the so-called "presentable" ideas). The implied ideas can be divided into two groups. The first group will unite the ideas, which are known to the listener according to the speaker's point of view (the so-called general information). The second group will present the ideas, which are comprehended by the listener via the help and particular definition (the so-called aimed information). The implied information determines a referential organization of a discourse. Hence, pragmatic concepts and cognitive processes, which are associated with it, can be called a referential management.
  4. A speaker observes in dynamics the implied meaning, which is intelligible to the listener. Sometimes he/she cannot be sure, that in the concrete situation a listener implies a meaning, which is desirable to the speaker. He/she can also underline and single out particular meanings. These processes determine the organization of a focus of a discourse. Therefore, the pragmatic concepts and cognitive processes, which are associated with it, can be called a management of a focus. The above mentioned four spheres of management of a discourse present the major problems of the management of the information (in the discourse).  

It's very important to show how the implied meaning is maintained in the process of forming and understanding the information for the purpose of comprehending the relationship between cognitive processes, the integration of the knowledge and the management of the information. One of the peculiarities of the connected coherent discourse is a systematic mentioning of the concepts, which are presented only once in the text. The problem of the novelty of the information, which is presented in different parts of the expression, must also be taken into consideration. Usually, each sentence contains an element, which conveys the new information. It's called a focus, which is connected with a cognitive representation of the difference. A focus is the information, which differs from the other information and "stands solitarily". According to Longacre's witty remark, if the above mentioned features of a discourse were not important: "the result [would be] like being presented with a piece of black paper and being told, "This is a picture of black camels crossing black sands at midnight" [Longacre, 1976; 10]. Therefore, an exclusiveness of a particular element is necessary for the consciousness of a person: we perceive an object or a phenomenon, when it is distinguished from the surrounding objects and phenomena.

From the point of view of pragmatics or macro-pragmatics, a text cannot function in the vacuum. A variety of functional styles and types of different pragmatic orientations of texts are formed and developed in the cultural-historical environment. It's worth mentioning, that a functional style (as a general category) can be dissociated from the pragmatic orientation of the sub-group of texts (or a concrete text).

The above mentioned problems are connected with the question of cognitive value of mass communication and especially, with the question of a cognitive function of a metaphor in a journalistic discourse. The analysis of journalistic material revealed, that in the articles a cognitive function of a metaphor is determined by a pragmatic orientation of a text (and an author). This important feature is met in the Georgian as well as in the English and Russian materials. While observing the most important internal, external, political, economic, social and other problems, the authors of the articles consider the readers of the journal. When the journalists use a professional terminology, they prefer popular, well-known terms. In those cases, when the author wants to present the essence of the especially complicated phenomenon and tries to simplify the process of cognition, the preference is given to the metaphor.

It's obvious, that in contrast to the metaphor, a term is more precise. Hence, the usage of a term creates cognitive difficulties to the unprofessional audience. From this point of view, a pragmatic-functional load of a genuine metaphor in the press considers the unity of cognitive and stylistic (figurativeness, compactness) potentials. By means of a metaphor, the author of the article manages to convey his thoughts, point of view or evaluation with a figurative, impressive and popular language. For example, we can discuss an essay from the magazine "Times", which deals with the essence of Thatcherism in Britain. In the essay, which occupies only one page, the author of the paper manages to define the essence of the most significant stage of Britain's political, social and economic development. Instead of applying to economic terms, he/she uses the unity of genuine metaphors, which seems effective from cognitive, stylistic and pragmatic points of view. For example: "Her (Margaret Thatcher's - M.D.) unfettered army would drive the unbelievers, from the field, privatizing public industries routing trade unions, ripping down the social safety nets, which had become hammocks" [Ogden, 1997: 7]. It's essential for the author to convey the essence of Margaret Thatcher's reforms with an intelligible language. In the given context the central metaphor is - ripping down the social safety nets, which had become hammocks. This phrase comprises a significant economic problem. It shows the most important aspect of Thatcher's policy, which implies the existence of quite strong social safety mechanism in pre-Thatcher Britain. In the English language the mechanisms of safety are denoted by the cliché - "social safety nets", which means (word-by-word) "the nets of the social safety". Therefore, in the English language instead of the phrase "the system of social protection" "works" a banal metaphor "safety net". The author of the article revives the above mentioned cliché ("social safety nets") and on the basis of it, creates a new extended metaphor. The author says, that according to Thatcher's point of view, a social safety net became a hammock for the English people. It means, that an excessive social protection has grown the people too lazy. By means of the other genuine metaphor - to rip down the hammocks - the author describes the English prime-minister's viewpoint: Margaret Thatcher believes, that an existed social safety net must be destroyed, because it prevents a normal development of market economy, a healthy competition, an establishment of private industry and an individual initiative of a person.

Besides the above mentioned central metaphor, the article presents less figurative ones, which create a cognitive background. For example: strikes were "The British disease; Britain's ship of state plunged". Therefore, the discussion of the central metaphor enables us to state, that the author's pragmatic orientation is determined by the cognitive effectiveness of this metaphor (the essence of Thatcher's reform is explained without the mentioning of the concept) and by the stylistic (figurativeness and compactness) "loading".

It's interesting, to discuss the question of a metaphoric concept in relation to the above mentioned problem. For example: the concept "competition" and the conceptual metaphor "competition is war". The latter is mentioned in the article (about a magnate of computer techniques Larry Elison), which was published in the magazine Times. The author presents Larry as a Ninja warrior. He writes: "He conducts his business like a Ninja warrior" and than adds: "In every private conversation I've had with Larry over the past 15 or 20 years", says an industry figure, "the metaphors when he's speaking of competitors are always violent. "This is the quarter we put a knife in their chest" or "The life will be choked out of them". The metaphors don't come from the Bible. He sees this as personal combat" [Eisenberg..., 1997: 15]. The author mentions, that Elison uses a military terminology for characterizing his competitors, because a competitor is considered as an enemy: "He attacks their position and simultaneously, defends his position, plans his actions and uses a particular strategy" [Лакофф, Джонсон, 1990: 389]. According to the above mentioned, the given metaphors belong to the group of structural ones: a violent picture of business competition is presented by means of the military terminology and the concepts, which characterize a war. It seems, that a structural metaphor considers the transference of a metaphor or the whole field of metaphors from one sphere of activity to another - from the sphere of social aggression to the aggression of the business sphere. The analogous examples are: "In Austin, Texas, Bush and his small-circle of advisers said that they were ready to wage the war on Democratic ground"; "The Gore campaign is planning heavy assault on specific aspects of Bush's Texas record" [Chipman, 2000: 24]. Like the above mentioned examples, the war (an elective war) is waged here. Lakoff and Jonson mention, that "the essence of metaphor lies in the fact, that the phenomena are felt and comprehended with the terms of another phenomena" [Лакофф..., 1990: 389]. It's obvious, that in the given example a reader does not consider an elective war as a kind of a war. An elective marathon and an armed conflict are different phenomena, which are connected with different activities. Hence, the authors of the article use military terms and consider the concept of the war metaphorically. In this case, a conceptual metaphor - election is war - is acceptable. Similarly to the above mentioned examples, "society from the direct aggression" and "society in the politics (in the elections)" can be considered as a type of the transference of spheres. If in one case, a competition in the business sphere is explained with the metaphors of war, in the other case, an election campaign is implied.  It's obvious, that such opposition of human beings does not mean the bloodshed. Hence, an "essential" similarity is seen between them. Despite the civil character of external     manifestations, the opposition is violent and unmerciful. Furthermore, the first example can be regarded as a manifestation of the individual rough aggression, while the other is a "display" of the organized mass aggression.

The same can be said about the Georgian texts. The same conceptual metaphors are met ("elections - are a war" or "politics - is a war") in the Georgian press. For example: "If we watch carefully a political process and the degree of activity of political figures, we will see, that a special emphasis is put on Eduard Surmanidze. He is in the front line more often than others and he is a reliable companion in arms for Zhvania" [Antadze, 2001: 9]. In the given example the used "conceptual system is metaphoric. By means of this system a human being's behavior, perception and thinking are structured. Therefore, it can be concluded, that a metaphor "is inculcated in our everyday life", including a human being's action and behavior: ,,Eсли мы правы в своем предположении, что наша понятийная система носит преимущественно метафорический характер, то тогда наше мышление, повседневный опыт и поведение в значительной степени обусловливаются метафорами, мы получили также в свое распоряжение метафоры, структурирующие наше восприятие, наше мышление и поступки.  Mетафора пронизывает всю нашу повседневную жизнь и проявляется не только в языке, но и в мышлении и действии.'' [Лакофф...,  1990: 387]. This conclusion is based on the fact, that the rules of behavior, social contacts and the reality, which is perceived by consciousness, are inculcated in the conceptual system stipulated by the metaphor.

The same situation is in the Russian press. "В битве за подмосковье Кремль поддержал Генадия Селезнева публично, в  борьбе за кресло председателя Думы - поддерживает тайно" [А. Рыклин..., 2000: 12].  "Дмитрий Аяцков попытался взорвать ситуацию изнутри, предложив назвать трех кандидатов в президенты.  Да все без толку"  [Д. Пинскер, 1998:17]. These examples use the same conceptual metaphors as the above mentioned ones: the elections - are a war, society direct aggression - society politics. The examples written in three languages revealed, that the metaphors of the war explain the competition in the business sphere and peripeteias of an election campaign. According to the above mentioned, these spheres of human beings' opposition do not mean the bloodshed. Hence, the opposition is as violent and strong as during the war. The violence and aggressiveness is underlined via metaphors.  

It seems, that a cognitive metaphor, which is created on the crossroads of cognitive and pragmatic functions has great expressive potential. Therefore, it affects the mind and emotions. A cognitive metaphor is often used in press, because it persuades a reader without a logical argumentation.


Antadze I.
Two possible scenarios of the development of events. “Aril” N14, 9 August (in Georgian)
Daraselia M.
Journalistic discourse, metaphor and theoretical basis of its definition. Tbilisi (in Georgian)
Chipman J.
The Battle Ahead. Newsweek,August 28.
DuBois J.W.
Beyond Definiteness: The Trace of Identity in Discourse’’, in W.Chafe (ed.),The Pear Stories: Cognitive,Cultural and Linguistic Aspects of Narrative Production. Norwood.
Eisenberg D., Cooper J., Jackson D.S.
Larry Ellisson:The Prince of San Mateo. Time,May 12.
Fox B.A.
Discourse Structure and Anaphora in Written and Conversational English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gundel J.
The Role of Topic and Comment in Linguistic Theory’’.PhD Dissertation, University of Texas. Austin.
Halliday M.A.K.
Notes on Transivity and Theme in English, Part1, ”Journal of Linguistics”, №3.
Kintsch W.,van Dijk T.
Toward a Model of Text Comprehension and Production. ”Psychological Review”, №8.
Kintsch W.
The Representation of Meaning in Memory. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Lakoff G.,Johnson M.
The Metaphorical Structure of the Conceptual System. Perspectives on Cognitive Science/Ed-d by Norman D/. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Lakoff G.,Johnson M.
Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Lambrecht K.
Information Structure and Sentence Form. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ogden Ch.
Goodbye To All That? Time,May 12.
Russell S. Tomlin, Linda Forrest, Ming Ming Pu and Myung Hee Kim.
Discourse Semantics in Discourse as Structure and Process, Discourse Studies: A Multidisciplinary Introduction,Vol.I,edited by Teun A.van Dijk. SAGE Publications,London,Thousand Oaks,New Delhi.
Пинскер Д.
Наш дом - ,,серпентарий’’. ,,Итоги вместе с Newsweek’’, 5мая.
Лакофф Дж., Джонсон М.
Метафоры, которыми мы жывем. Теория Метафоры / Под ред. Н.Д.Арутюновой, М.А.Журинской/. Москва.
Рыклин А., Хитаров Д.
Еще один генерал-губернатор. ,,Итоги вместе с Newsweek’’,18 января.