Plotnikova S.N., Shavalieva E.B. The Role of Metadiscourse in the Conversational Discourse Space

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu2.2017.1.16

Svetlana N. Plotnikova

Doctor of Sciences (Philology), Professor, Department of English Philology, Irkutsk State University

Lenina St., 8, 664025 Irkutsk, Russian Federation

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http://orcid.org/0000-0003-3595-6857

Elena B. Shavalieva

Assistant Professor, Department of English Philology, Irkutsk State University

Lenina St., 8, 664025 Irkutsk, Russian Federation

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http://orcid.org/0000-0002-1040-8275


Abstract. In this paper we propose a space model of conversational discourse in which metadiscourse is an essential component. Discourse space is viewed as an extension of the notion of text space which brings together text and talk. 'Text' is used to refer to the product of writing, while 'conversation' is studied as the product of speaking, and 'talk' is understood as ongoing interaction. Discourse space is defined as a domain in which certain discourses co-occur and function together. We argue that discourse space is a notion which helps structure information in a conversation, namely delimit the factual information and the information about the interpersonal relations between the participants. The examples analyzed clearly show that conversational discourse consists of two co-discourses. 'Discourse per se' is concerned with the states of affairs in the represented world (who is doing what to whom, when, where, why, how). 'Metadiscourse' conveys information about role relationships among the participants, including permanent and temporary relationships and the speech roles that the participants are taking on in the conversation. Our emphasis is on discovering the manner in which 'discourse' and 'metadiscourse' are brought together and their respective contributions to the formation of meaning in a conversation. In some conversations it is possible to identify and delimit a particular metadiscourse as a single structural unit or as various structural installments. In other words, it is possible to identify where metadiscourse begins, what parts it consists of, and where it ends. But there are conversations where the occurrence of metadiscourse is less obvious. We begin with the superficial, or observable, level of metadiscourse representation, and then we move to the deeper, or underlying, dimensions of metadiscourse realization in a conversation. This order of analysis is not arbitrary: observable manifestations of metadiscourse prove that it is a particular form of language use, which is a particular selection of morphemes, words and sentences. Interestingly, however, it is not merely the linguistic forms that play a role, but also the implicit information inferred from the discourse space. So, 'discourse space' is a notion that belongs rather to a semantic or cognitive approach to discourse.

Key words: conversational discourse, metadiscourse, discourse space, conversation, metaspace.

Citation. Plotnikova S.N., Shavalieva E.B. The Role of Metadiscourse in the Conversational Discourse Space. Science Journal of Volgograd State University. Linguistics, 2017, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 154-162. (in Russian). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu2.2017.1.16. 

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