Pinkster, Harm (1942-) [1990], Latin Syntax and Semantics [info], xii, 320 p.: ill.; 24 cm. [word count] [Pinkster].
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12.1. Text and textual cohesion

Generally speaking, people communicate with one another in units that consist of more than one sentence, or, in the case of a dialogue, form units together with the sentences of the interlocutor (e.g. question–answer pairs). Sentences are, therefore, mostly construed in such a way that it is clear how a sentence B is connected with a preceding sentence A. In chapter 9 on word order we have seen, for instance, that constituents that are known from the preceding context are often placed at the beginning of the sentence, as Topic

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constituents. In text linguistics, but also in psychology and the study of artificial intelligence, much attention has been devoted to the question of what exactly turns a collection of sentences into a coherent `text'. [1] A necessary, but not a sufficient condition is that the sentences are semantically related. They must deal with the same topic. Another condition is that the contents of the sentences must be related in a temporal, causal/consecutive or similar manner, or at least that they can be interpreted as such by the hearer/reader, [2] e.g. (1):

(1a) It was raining. We stayed at home.

(1b) It was raining. So we stayed at home.

The two sentences in (1a) can be interpreted as having a consecutive relation even in the absence of the connector so (as in (1b)). It is much more difficult to see a relation between the sentences in (2a):

(2a) It was raining. Unemployment figures were still high.

Such a relation can be construed by a third sentence, as in (2b):

(2b) It was raining. Unemployment figures were still high. Gloomily the union leader was staring out of the window.

If in a text the relation between successive sentences is not made clear in one of the ways described in crosssection 12.2. below, we are dealing with `asyndeton'. [3] (1a), for instance, is an example of asyndeton. The grammars distinguish various types of asyndeton (for examples see K.–St. II. 155–9; Sz. 469–71), e.g. adversative asyndeton (example (3)) and causal asyndeton (example (4)). These labels do not, of course, explain anything, but make explicit a semantic relation that the text itself leaves implicit. They imply, moreover, that adversative, causal, etc. relations are essentially different from `normal' temporal relation between successive sentences.

(3) Caesar … celeriter concilium dimittit. Liscum retinet (`Caesar rapidly put an end to the meeting. He kept Liscus behind', Caes. Gal. 1.18.1)


(4) supplicium in parricidas singulare excogitaverunt … insui voluerunt in culleum vivos (`They have devised a special punishment for parricides … They want them to be sewn alive into a leather bag', Cic. S. Rosc. 70–1)

Often sentences that follow one another asyndetically are `merely' temporally related, e.g. succession in (5) and contemporaneousness in (6):

(5) veni, vidi, vici (see example (13) on p. 218)

(6) hi propter propinquitatem et celeritatem hostium nihil iam Caesaris imperium exspectabant sed per se quae videbantur administrabant. Caesar … decucurrit (`Because of the closeness and rapidness of the enemy they no longer waited for orders from Caesar but took the

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necessary decisions as they themselves saw fit. Caesar … hurried down … ', Caes. Gal. 2.20.4–21.1)

Texts differ as to the frequency of asyndeton. In texts written in a periodic style asyndeton is relatively rare. In archaic texts it is relatively frequent, but in Seneca, too, the frequency is extremely high. The grammars often describe the high frequency in archaic texts as a mark of colloquial usage and a relatively underdeveloped stylistic level. This generalization must, however, be treated with some caution. Considering Seneca, the frequency of asyndeton apparently has to do with personal preference as well. Table 12.1 offers an illustration of the variations in frequency of the use of asyndeton and explicit sentence-connecting constituents in a number of passages of similar length from Cic. Att., Liv. and Sen. Ep. [4] Table 12.1 Asyndeton in three texts
Cic.Liv.Sen.
Asyndeton6842107
`Syndeton'425741
Authors with a periodic style, too, used asyndeton in order to create an effect of speed and suspense (see Sz. 469), e.g. (7):

(7) Mittuntur ad Caesarem confestim ab Cicerone litterae … Obsessis omnibus viis missi intercipiuntur. Noctu … turres … excitantur … Quae deesse operi videbantur perficiuntur. (`Immediately a letter was sent to Caesar by Cicero. Because all roads were blocked the messengers were captured. During the night towers were built. Visible defects of the rampart were repaired', Caes. Gal. 5.40.1–2)

This phenomenon occurs in many languages. [5]

Apart from the fact that people normally communicate in units larger than a single sentence (with `texts', therefore) and that, as a consequence, there is an explicit or implicit semantic relation between individual sentences, texts, in their turn, also contain smaller, semantically highly coherent units. In narrative texts, for instance, successive `episodes' may be distinguished. Many written texts are divided into `paragraphs'. Such `segments' are often connected with each other in an explicit way. The means used to mark this connection are sometimes similar to, but sometimes differ from the means that are used to mark connections between individual sentences. In discussing Cic. Att. 1.5 (figure 9.1 on p. 172 ff. above) we have seen that Cicero abruptly, without any transition, provides successive pieces of information about various relatives. The knowledge common to Cicero and Atticus apparently sufficed and Atticus knew enough to understand the text. In other cases Cicero

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uses Theme constituents to call Atticus' attention to the fact that he is changing the subject (sentence 4: quod ad me scribis de sorore tua; sentences 7, 9, 13, 18). Within semantically coherent segments Cicero often uses connectors and other sentence-connecting constituents (sentence 2: nam; sentence 3: quare; sentence 5: quem; sentence 6: itaque; sentence 8: enim; sentence 10: sed; sentence 11: etenim; sentence 12: sed; sentence 14: sed; sentence 15: autem; sentence 16: autem; sentence 17: quam; sentence 19: id). In this case, therefore, there is a difference between the means used to mark the relation between the individual segments of the text and those used within the segments. Authors may differ on this point. [6] A well-known means used by Caesar to link episodes is the summarizing ablative absolute (type hoc facto (`after this had been done'). In Virgil's Aeneid one is struck by the use of interea, e.g. (8):

(8) tum Cererem corruptam undis Cerealiaque arma expediunt fessi rerum, frugesque receptas et torrere parant flammis et frangere saxo. Aeneas scopulum interea conscendit … (`Then, wearied with their lot, they took out the corn of Ceres, spoiled by the waves, with the tools of Ceres, and prepared to parch the rescued grain in the fire and crush it under the stone. Meanwhile, Aeneas climbed a peak … ', Verg. A. 1.177–80) [7]

An exact local or temporal indication is another means to mark the beginning of a new episode, e.g. (9):

(9) L. Genucio Ser. Cornelio consulibus ab externis ferme bellis otium fuit (`During the consulate of L.G. and Ser.C. there was practically complete quiet as to foreign wars', Liv. 10.1.1)

Here I leave out of accont the relation between episodes and similar units and the means used to create such relations, limiting myself to the means used to make clear the relation between sentences.

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Pinkster, Harm (1942-) [1990], Latin Syntax and Semantics [info], xii, 320 p.: ill.; 24 cm. [word count] [Pinkster].
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