Discourse and Text

Janice Carruthers

in The Oxford Handbook of Tense and Aspect

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195381979
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Discourse and Text


This article discusses tense and aspect in the context of attested forms of discourse and text. The emphasis is on the semantic, pragmatic, textual, and stylistic functions of tense in context, taking into account linguistic features in the surrounding discourse, as well as the importance of factors such as medium (spoken or written), register (degree of formality), text type (literary vs. journalistic vs. conversational etc.), and discourse mode (narrative vs. report vs. description, etc.). Thus, tense and aspect are analyzed not purely as part of a linguistic “system” as such, but in the context of particular texts or forms of discourse. The article also explores the concept of “markedness” through two case studies: the narrative present and the narrative imperfect. Finally, it assesses the roles played by tenses in conveying particular points of view in texts, including shifts and/or ambiguities in point of view; Segmented Discourse Representation Theory; internal focalization and the French imperfective past tense; and textual polyphony.

Keywords: tense; aspect; text; discourse; markedness; narrative present; narrative imperfect; Segmented Discourse Representation; internal focalization; textual polyphony

Article.  14480 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Pragmatics

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