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BOOK NOTICES 861 of cohesion, coherence, and topicality. I fully agree with B that 'cohesion is merely a surface symptom of some deeper relation which can exist independently of it' and that 'the obvious relation to consider here is that of coherence' (17). But I cannot follow her in abandoning the concepts of coherence and topicality as well. B mentions a few other scholars who use the term 'coherence' , but leaves out the most explicit and most discussed recent approach—that of William C. Mann & Sandra A. Thompson (Rhetorical structure theory, Marina del Rey, CA: Information Sciences Institute. 1987). In fact, she argues only against Jerry R. Hobbs's 'Why is discourse coherent?' (in Coherence in natural -language texts, ed. by Fritz Neubauer, Hamburg: Buske, 1983). B offers several arguments against Hobbs's view of coherence. First, she says that coherence relations cannot account for one-sentence texts or for text-initial sentences (21). But the whole question of textuality arises not from isolated or text-initial sentences, but from how the meanings of sentences in sequence are integrated to arrive at text meaning. Second, she argues that coherence approaches cannot resolve the ambiguity of sentences such as The man who has made a bomb may use it (21-22). It is difficult to see how the ambiguity of any sentence could be resolved out of context; but as soon as a context is provided, coherence relations come into the picture. And finally, B believes that coherence-based approaches exclude a 'noncoherent' interpretation of the following dialogue (22): A: What did Susan say? B: You've dropped your purse. But this is precisely what we would want a theory of coherence for—distinguishing between coherent and noncoherent sentence sequences . In terms of relevance, not answering a question may have the same status as answering it. I would prefer a theory that accounts for the difference between the two situations. B's arguments against coherence are thus not really convincing. It is noteworthy, moreover, that B herself makes ample use of what is, according to her, 'superfluous' (24) coherence relation terminology (cf. e.g. 127, 129, 137). Ch. 2 (43-92) is basically a restatement of Sperber & Wilson's relevance theory, illustrated with examples from Sissala. B provides evidence that Sperber & Wilson have indeed succeeded in formulating universal principles of communication. Ch. 3 (93-123) is devoted to a Sissala 'hearsay particle'. B argues that traditional analyses of such particles may be deficient and shows that the actual range of uses in Sissala is neatly captured by Sperber & Wilson 's category of 'interpretive use' (1986:22431 ). In Ch. 4 (124-60), B uses Diane Blakemore's Semantic constraints on relevance (Oxford: Blackwell, 1987) as the basis for an analysis of a particle that shows striking parallels to German auch but not to English also. This chapter is a fine example of how contrastive studies of unrelated languages can shed new light on old problems. Ch. 5 (161-82) deals with a particle that corresponds to a whole range of English particles, among them again, still, as well, and more. The focus is on problems of truth conditions , vagueness, and ambiguity. Ch. 6 (183201 ) is devoted to the Sissala expressions for definiteness and specificity in noun phrases, Ch. 7 (202-37) to problems of universal quantification (with interesting observations on the choice of domains for quantifiers), and Ch. 8 (238-60) to the various possibilities for coordination. B's study contains a host of interesting observations and ideas, and reading it is very thought-provoking and rewarding. But it also has serious flaws. In general, the range of theoretical questions raised is too broad and ambitious to be covered adequately in a study of this type. There are also a few annoying mechanical blunders; for instance, some bibliographical references in the text are not listed in the bibliography . One must add, however, that the book provides another stepping stone towards better knowledge of human languages. [Paul Georg Meyer, Freie Universität Berlin.] Poetic compounds: The principles of poetic language in Modern English poetry. By Jean Boase-Beier. (Linguistische Arbeiten, 179.) Tübingen : Niemeyer, 1987. Pp. vii, 202. This study, the English version...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 861-862
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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