Pronouns can stand in place of things and, in that way, provide a tool for making a text cohesive. But, we can have other words stand in for things and often we can completely omit words, too, and these also help make a text cohesive.
Substitution is the use of words such as ‘one’ and ‘the same’ and ‘do’ to provide cohesion and avoid repetition in a text.
In noun replacement, we can replace nouns in the following ways:
- ‘This towel is wet. Have you got a dry one?’
- ‘l’ll get the books in the hall and you get the ones in the classroom.’
- Waiter: ‘What would you like, sir?’
Customer 1: ‘I’ll have an espresso.’
Customer 2: ‘Yes, I’ll have the same.’
In the text, ‘Alive and well in Grahamstown, South Africa’, there are a couple of examples of substitution:
- There was a festival going on in Grahamstown while I was there and I went to a couple of theatre performances. The first one I walked out of, the second I persevered because it was PC to stay and the third one, by Jean Genet, I didn’t actually go in to see but those who went hated it.
We can retrieve the meaning of ‘one’ as ‘theatre performance’.
In verb replacement, we can replace verbs in the following way:
- ‘I’ll wash the windows now and do the floors later.’
In clause replacement, we can replace clauses in the following way:
- Question: ‘Is it raining yet?’ Answer: ‘I don’t think so.’
- Question: ‘Can I borrow your new dress?’ Answer: ‘Certainly not.’
Ellipsis is the omission of words or phrases from a clause; for example:
- ‘The hand of the koala is a powerful grasping device, with the first two digits (…) opposing the other three (…).’
Without ellipsis, this would be:
- ‘The hand of the koala is a powerful grasping device, with the first two digits (on each hand) opposing the other three (digits).’
Collocation (expectancy relations)
Collocation refers to the way certain words co-occur more often than would be expected by chance, hence the term ‘expectancy relations’. This is an evolutionary aspect of a language—over time and continued use, certain combinations of words are acceptable and others not and then we come to ‘expect’ them to be used together. Examples are:
- fun and laughter
- climb the ladder
- lodge a complaint
- strong coffee
- extremely happy
- make a noise.
Because collocation refers to what would be expected, it also, in a sense, tells us what is restricted, too. And so we would say that the following don’t go together even though the words being used are synonymous with the words previously used:
- fun and guffawing
- scaled the ladder
- place a complaint
- powerful coffee
- highly happy
- do a noise.
If we consider how this might have evolved in a language, we could see it as moving initially from two words combining together in an unbound way, to becoming quite bound in a collocated form (and in nouns forming hyphenated words, for example), to becoming so formulaic that they become idiomatic. Therefore, we have:
freely combining => becoming bound as collocations => unchanging idioms
© John Polias, 2019
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