A Cognitive-pragmatic Approach to Discourse Topic: A Cross-linguistic Analysis and Universal Account
Published Online: Jan 01, 2017
This paper investigates contemporary Mandarin Chinese and English discourse topic across text genres to render plausible interpretations based upon a relevance-theoretic approach, as opposed to previous studies from syntactic/structural and functional/cognitive points of view. Examining discourse topic from a cognitive-pragmatic perspective will not merely facilitate readers with more accessible contextual effects such as implicatures, but also subtopics such as grounding and composite topics can also be approached layer by layer with regard to cognition and language. This plays a crucial role in perception, comprehension and interpretation of utterances and non-verbal communication, and hence the mental processes of assigning/deciding a topic. The topic may thus vary from a word, short phrases to a sentence, and, above all, it is the gist that inferred by the audience that eventually forms the basis for the topic of the text/discourse.