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The Syndetic And Asyndetic Coordination English Language Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 4257 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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This chapter is devoted to throwing some light on the theoretical aspects of the research work. The term coordination is central to this study. Nevertheless, derivations of coordination as a branch of linguistic study, how it has been explained and used in other genres will be looked at in order to set-up a conceptual framework that would help to make things clear and lay the foundation for subsequent analysis.

2.1. The Concept in Focus


Haspelmath(2000) defines coordination as "syntactic constructions in which

two or more units of the same type are combined into larger units and still have the same

semantic relations with other surrounding elements (1)."

Bloomfield's similar definition of coordination contrasts it with subordination:

Endocentric constructions are of two kinds, co-ordinative (or serial) and

subordinative (or attributive). In the former type the resultant phrase belongs to

the same form-class as two or more of the constituents...In subordinative

endocentric constructions, the resultant phrase belongs to the same form-class as

one of the constituents, which we call the head. (195).

Both of these definitions are syntactic, and emphasize the balanced syntactic

relationship between coordinated items. In addition, both definitions state that the

structure resulting from coordination is of the same type (semantic in Haspelmath's

definition, syntactic in Bloomfield's) as the coordinated items. Yuasa and sadock in agreement with the observation of Bloomfield further mention 5 criteria that confirms the presence of coordination:

Reversibility : changing the order of the conjuncts does not affect the truth conditions.

Application of the coordinate structure constraint: the constituents of one clause cannot be questioned separately.

No backward anaphora: a pronoun in the first clause cannot co refer with a full NP in the second clause.

Multiple conjuncts are possible.

All the conjuncts are equally asserted. (87-111.)

Halliday and Hasan describe coordination as an intrasentential structural device . However, Halliday and Hasan do acknowledge that sets of sentences similar to coordination do exist especially if they share parallel structure, and view coordination as a structure of the paratactic type (223)

Cathrine Fabricius-Hansen and Ramm, W (2005) describe coordination as being used as a means of clause combining and information packaging at discourse level and differs from a sentence sequence by explicitly instructing the reader to 'keep the two propositions together' in discourse processing. For example in establishing a discourse structure, licensing the inference of certain discourse relations to hold between the conjuncts, while blocking others. As a means of constructing (more) complex (clause/VP) constituents from simpler ones of the same syntactic category, coordination can be compared to certain kinds of adjunction, i.e. syntactic subordination. (175-213).

Coordination has been viewd by various scholars as processes used by languages to combine units to make other units. Or as a part of the basic efficiency of language through which simple units like phrases and the simple sentence are re-cycled to make longer and perhaps more complex units.

Dickens (2009) re-categorizes coordinators as existing in a semantic cline with disjuncts. By this he means a scale of varying levels of coordination: while coordinators such as and establish an equivalent and non-adverbial relationship between two clauses such that neither is subordinate to the other, disjuncts like since establish some degree of indirectness and an adverbial relationship between the clauses (42:1076-1136).

2.3. Types of Coordination

Syndetic and asyndetic coordination

Haspelmath and Quirk et al define asyndetic and syndetic coordination as Coordinate constructions lacking overt coordinator (asyndetic coordination) or having some overt linking devices such as conjunctions; and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet.(syndetic coordination).

a). Slowly and stealthily, he crept towards his victim.

And Asyndetic coordination as when the relationship of coordination is not marked overtly;

a). Slowly, stealthily, he crept towards his victim.

Though there exist a relatively fixed order for subclasses of adjectives in asyndetic coordination, but the order is said to be relatively free when a coordinator is present.

2.4. Asyndetic Coordination


Despite its formidable name asyndeton is nothing more than a different way of handling a list or a series,Asyndeton uses no conjunctions and separates the terms of the list with commas. It differs from the conventional treatment of lists and series, which is to use only commas between all items except the last two, these being joined by a conjunction. Asyndeton is linked to asyndetic coordination. Asyndeton produces a hurried rhythm in the sentence.

Corbett (1971) cites Aristotle's observation that 'asyndeton was especially

appropriate for the conclusion of a discourse, because there, perhaps more than in

other places in the discourse, we may want to produce the emotional reaction that

can be stirred by, among other means, rhythm', (470).

Asyndeton is the instance of conjoining constructions in which there are no coordinators (also referred to as juxtaposition); monosyndeton, in which there is one coordinator; and polysyndeton, in which more than one coordinator is used.

2.5. Syndetic Coordination


Polysyndeton is a way of handling a list or a series. Polysyndeton places a conjunction (and, or) after every term in the list (except, the last). It differs from the conventional treatment of lists and series, which is to use only commas between all items except the last two, these being joined by a conjunction. Polysyndeton is linked to Syndetic coordination , as opposed to Asyndeton which is linked to Asyndetic coordination.

Monosyndetic and Bisyndetic Coordination

Coordination's may either have a single coordinator (monosyndetic) or two

coordinators (bisyndetic).

Haspelmath (2000) further proffers some relevant constituency tests for monosyndetic coordination:

(i) Intonation: In certain cases, English and forms an intonation group

with the following phrase, not with the preceding phrase.

(ii) Pauses: In English, it is much more natural to pause before and

than after and.

(iii) Discontinuous order: In special circumstances, the coordinands may

be separated by other material, as when a coordinand is added as an

afterthought. In English, the coordinator must be next to the second

coordinand (e.g. My uncle will come tomorrow, or my aunt). Not my uncle or will come tomorrow, my aunt.

(iv) (Morpho)phonological alternations: When the coordinator or one of

the coordinand undergoes (morpho)phonological alternations in the

construction, this is evidence that they form a constituent together. (121)

2.6. The Nature of Coordination

Contrastive Coordination

Conjunction and Disjunction

Haspelmath (2000) states that many languages distinguish between normal coordination such as A and B, X or Y, which may also be referred to as conjunction and what might be called contrastive coordination: both A and B, either X or Y. The semantic difference he views is that in contrastive coordination, it is emphasized that each coordinand belongs to the coordination and each of them is considered separately .

Hence, it creates opposing notion of meaning inherent in the text because two things cannot be separately similar. And like conjunction, "disjunction markers are often polyfunctional" .

Dickens (2009) states that "Disjuncts display some coordinator-like properties, so they are grouped on a continuum with coordinators" (1089).

Halliday and Hassan see conjunction as a cohesive device that relates sentences.

Conjunctive elements they state, are cohesive not in themselves but indirectly, by virture of their specific meanings; they are viewed as not primarily devices for reaching out into the preceding text, but express certain meanings which presuppose the presence of other components in the discourse, as similary described by Bloor and Bloor (1995) .

Halliday and Hasan (1976) indicate that "conjunctive relations are not tied to any particular sequence in the expression".

Nevertheless, amongst the cohesion forming devices within text, conjunction is seen as the least directly identifiable relation. Conjunction acts as a semantic cohesive tie within text in four categories:

Additive, adversative, causal and temporal. Additive conjunction acts to structurally coordinate or link by adding to the presupposed item and are signaled through "and, also, too, furthermore, additionally", etc. Additive conjunction may also act to negate the presupposed item and is signaled by "nor, and...not, either, neither", etc. Adversative conjunctions act to indicate "contrary to expectation" ( 250) and are signaled by "yet, though, only, but, in fact, rather", etc. Causal conjunction expresses "result, reason and purpose" and is signaled by "so, then, for, because. Adversative coordination seems 'always binary', - it must consist of two coordinands, so is described as causal and then is described as temporal. (227)

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Halliday and Hassan acknowledge that conjunction is derived from coordination, they argue that "Conjunction … is not simply coordination extended so as to operate between sentences", noting that one difference between coordinate and and conjunctive and is that coordinate and can link any number of items, whereas conjunctive and links pairs of sentences.  They view conjunctions as expressing one or other of a small number of very general relations (238).

In the same vein Halliday and Matthiessen (1999) in relation to its cohesive function state that "In conjunction, the various logical-semantic relations of expansion that construe clause complex structures … are deployed instead as a source of cohesion".

They argue that among other resources which construe clauses and clause complexes into longer stretches of discourse without the formality of further grammatical structure are conjunction and lexical cohesion (530-31).

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999) in extending the notion of language resources as tools of broadening and reaching out into meaning states that:

in principle, any particular type of expansion or projection can be interpreted in either way, either as "paratactic" or "hypotactic"; but in fact there is some degree of partial association: certain combinations are favored, and others correspondingly disfavored. For example, in English, when one process is construed as a simple restatement of, or addition to another, the two are likely to have equal status; whereas where one is seen as enhancing the other they are usually unequal - a means is secondary to what has been achieved by it, a cause is secondary to its effect…The second type of expansion consists in extending one process by construing another one as an addition to it (with 'and' as the limiting case); or as an alternative to it, a replacement for it, or as some form of reservation or contrast. Here the grammar typically employs conjunctions, like and, or, but, instead, besides… The third type of expansion is one of enhancing the first process by another one setting up a specific semantic relationship, of which the principal ones are time, cause, condition, concession and means. Here again the grammar deploys a range of different conjunctions, which mark either the enhancing clause (when, because, by, though, if and so on) or the one that is being enhanced (e.g. then 'at that time', then 'in that case', so, thus, yet), (520-1).

Scott Drellishak (2004) in his thesis: "A Survey of Coordination Strategies in the World's Languages" quotes Gleitman (1965) as viewing conjunction as one of many syntactic processes that serve the purpose of indicating contrast or reducing repetition ; conjoined sentence that does not indicate contrast or reduce repetition is described as not serving any purpose." (268)

2.7. Phrasal Coordination

If two expressions have different semantic roles it will not be possible to coordinate them. Although it is sometimes said that the coordinands must belong to the same phrasal category; for instance, (tea) NP or (in a Nigerian Restaurant) PP is said to be ungrammatical because it consists of an NP and a PP. However, "coordination of different phrasal categories is often possible when

both have the same semantic role.

Also in phrasal coordination, "the order of conjoined words can be influenced by the tendency for the shorter word to come first and within phrasal coordination, there can be ellipsis of the determiner" (Quirk et al:610).

2.8. Clausal Coordination

When two or more clauses are coordinated, certain clause constituents are often ellipted from all but one of the clauses. More often than not , the effect of ellipsis is no more than to suggest a closer connection between the content of the clauses but sometimes the effect is to indicate that there is a combined process rather than two separate processes.

And and or as clause linkers are restricted to initial position. Coordinated clauses with and and or are sequentially fixed in relation to the previous clause and cannot be transposed without producing ungrammaticality in sentence structure , a clause containing a conjunct may be linked to a preceding clause by one of the coordinating conjunctions (and, or, but) but not all the conjuncts admit each coordinator (Quirk et al:552-553).

2.9. Parataxis in coordination

Parataxis is viewd as the grammatical arrangement of equal constituents, clauses in this case. The parataxis is the hallmark of coordination; in most cases, the equality of the clauses is evident both grammatically and semantically; coordination can link constituents at any rank. It creates parallel grammatical structures- structures that are identical in function and usually form as well.

2.10. Symmetric and asymmetric coordination

Coordinate constructions are said to have symmetrical properties such that conjuncts are paratactically construed, that a conjunct is not subordinated to another conjunct, that conjuncts have the same syntactic and semantic function ; on the other hand they have asymmetric properties such as command relationship between the first and the second conjuncts. This case is refered to as 'balanced and unbalanced' case of coordination.

2.11. Approaches to Coordination Analysis and

Coordination in Different Genres

In poetic texts, the study of coordination is quite sparse and limited. For instance Miller (2007) explores biblical Hebrew poetry and the relationship of coordination to verbal gapping is what forms her point of focus. She comes up with the findings that asyndetic coordination is the hallmark of biblical Hebrew poetry and especially early poetry (41-60).

Miller's corpus contains 123 lines from the book of Isiah.

Svetlana Petrova & Michael Solf (2008) explore 'rhetorical relations and verb placement in the early Germanic languages' . it presents a diachronic study about the distinction between coordination and subordination in discourse,it focuses on Old High German and on other early Germanic languages.

Petrova and Solf consider other kinds of data, mostly from declaratives, in support of the claim that verb placement serves certain discourse functions in early Germanic languages.

They come up with the finding that Verb fronting seems to have a clear functional purpose, as it is used to mark episode boundaries in Old High German. The study goes further in identifying some correlations between verb placement and discourse-structuring phenomenon in Old English, Old Saxon, and Old Norse, with similar discourse-structuring functions. A cross -linguistic approach is adopted in the study as opposed to functional approach in analysis.

Ash Asudeh and Richard Crouch (2002) examine 'Coordination and Parallelism in Glue Semantics' exploring points of convergence and divergence between approach to coordination and similar Categorial Grammar (CG) approaches. The research discusses parallelism in connection with the Coordinate Structure Constraint. The paper presents an account of the semantics of coordination, framed within the theory of Glue Semantics.

The goal of a GLUE derivation as explicated in the study is to consume all the lexical premises to produce a single conclusion; stating the meaning of the sentence. Further asserting that Semantic ambiguity results when there are alternative derivations from the same set of premises.

This study shares common interest with the present one as both relates coordination to instances of cohesion. While this study argues for a glue approach to coordination the present study differs on the ground of functional approach of analysis to coordination in poetic texts.

David Bell (2007) examines both the frequency and function of SIA (sentence initial and) and SIB (sentence initial but) in academic writing and its importance in understanding language in literary texts.

While coordinator and is more frequent in academic prose than but, SIA is much less frequent than SIB. Collected data show a marked difference in the use of SIA and SIB across different genres of academic writing with SIA and SIB being far more prevalent in the humanities journals. Furthermore, the study shows that SIA, when compared with other additive connectives such as moreover, furthermore, in addition, etc., is the most frequently occurring additive marker in academic writing, while SIB is the second most preferred connective after however.

With regard to function, the study goes on to argue that both SIA and SIB in academic writing function in three very similar ways: (i) to mark off a discourse unit by indicating the last item on a list; (ii) to indicate the development of an argument; and (iii) to indicate a

discontinuity or shift with a previous discourse unit. This is in line with Halliday and Hassan's (1975) view as regard the function of SIA and SIB. The study further asserts that whereas the most common function of SIA is that of indicating the last item on a list, the most common use of SIB is in the development of arguments.It argues that SIA and SIB perform special functions than the alternatives of asyndetic or "zero" coordination, the use of discourse markers that share their broad semantic function: Moreover, furthermore, in addition, and however, respectively, or intrasentential coordination cannot perform.

The study proffers that the features allow SIA and SIB to preface a wider range of lexico-grammatical units such as interrogatives, stance adverbs and other discourse connectives and to create a tighter cohesive fit. It comments that it is these special features of cohesion which are held to explain the occurrence of SIA and SIB in academic writing. The focus here is on the use of SIA and SIB in academic discourse, it excluded occurrences of SIA and SIB in academic writing from other modes such as in transcripts of conversations, in quotes from fiction or in poetic texts which is the sole focus of the present research.

Halliday and Hasan (1975) on SIA as part of their larger discussion of conjunction as one cohesive device in the larger concept of cohesion describes coordination as an intrasentential structural device while conjunction is seen as a cohesive device that relates sentences. In their examination of conjuncts, SIA is described as signaling an additive relationship between sentences while but is described as an adversative. Halliday and Hasan note that one difference between coordinate and, and conjunctive and, is that coordinate and can link any number of items, whereas conjunctive and links pairs of sentences (235).

Halliday and Hasan distinguish a further use of SIA, which they suggest comes closest to its structural function as a coordinator, they call it "'next in a series'" (236).

They suggest that another example would be "a series of points all contributing to one general argument." In this function, Halliday and Hasan argue that And retains some of the retrospective or retrojective effect, i.e. 'projecting backwards' that and has as a coordinator (236).

Here, SIA is viewed as signaling not the last item on a list but rather the continuation of an ongoing list of items. The study explicates that however, apart from the cases cited above where cohesive And operates similarly to coordinator and, the typical context for SIA is one where "there is a total, or almost total shift in the participants from one sentence to the next, and yet the two sentences are very definitely part of a text" (235).

Another common context in narrative fiction for this shift is at the boundary of dialogue and narrative.

What have been shown here is that SIA and SIB provide special features of cohesion that alternative forms of coordination do not.

Schiffrin (1986, 1987, 2006) examines utterance and turn-initial and in conversation. She argues that and has two roles in talk: An ideational role where it coordinates idea units - what she calls a "discourse coordinator" role, and an interactional or pragmatic or discourse marker role where it continues a speaker's action, i.e. marking the speaker's upcoming utterance as a continuation of the content and structure of an interaction, and these two functions most often occur simultaneously (1987: 128). As a marker of functionally differentiated idea units, the presence of and signals that the speaker identifies an upcoming unit as structurally coordinated or equivalent to a prior unit. In this way, and can differentiate among other things in narrative, support and position in arguments and explanations, and can also differentiate discourse topics. However, Schiffrin stresses that identifying the nature of these units "depends on textual information beyond and itself" (1987: 141).

In Summary Halliday and Hasan (1976), and Schiffrin (1986, 1987, 2006),see SIA as bracketing discourse units, continuing discourse units, or signaling a shift between discourse units; and what determines the discourse function of these signaled discourse units is constructed by the interaction of the linguistic properties of and with the discourse context in which it occurs.

Sotirova (2004), using the works of D.H. Lawrence, has argued that SIA, as well as other connectives, are used by Lawrence to signal perspectival shifts in free indirect style (227).

Huttar (2002) has examined the use of both discourse-initial and (DIA) and SIA in poetry. Huttar argues that DIA is often used to establish an imagined context already in progress or imagined prior events from which the present utterance is understood to continue. An extremely common form of DIA is that of a question addressed in response to an implied interlocutor's statement and often expressing surprise at the previous implied statement.

Cotter (2003) on the other hand examines the use of SIA and SIB in newspapers over a one hundred year period. She used a 100,000-word corpus of newspaper articles - a mixture of local and national syndicated articles, general news, and feature articles - published between 1900 and 1995. Over this period, she noted an increasing occurrence of SIA/B and concurrent decline in temporal connectives. Among other factors, Cotter argues that these connectives help to create local and global coherence in news narratives, introduce new speakers and ideas, and link a series of short paragraphs. Cotter sees this increasing use of SIA/B as indicative of a historical shift from more text-centered to more reader-centered prose.

Dorgeloh (2004) looked at SIA in a corpus of British English made up of LOB (Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen, 1961) and FLOB (Freiburg Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen, 1991). She indicates a decline in the use of SIA in both academic and newspaper writing. From her analysis she concludes that in written Modern English, SIA, where it does occur, marks functional shifts on a more global level of discourse (1777).

This research departs from much of the previous studies, by presenting a functional linguistic analysis which was proffered by Halliday et al. Earlier researches often focus on the frequency with which certain linguistic features occur, yet another description focuses on the functions of those features. Functional descriptions of language - like the one to be adopted here, are more valuable since they offer some understanding of communicative purpose and, thus, explain the use and frequency of linguistic features.


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