Never mind the text types, here's textual force: Towards a pragmatic reconceptualization of text type
SourcePRAGMA Journal of Pragmatics
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This paper discusses aspects of the theoretical and methodological confusion around the notions of language function, text type and genre, and proposes a restructuring of the purported relationship among them. Taxonomical biases regarding genre have led to the postulation of superordinate classes, variously labeled prototypical text categories, text prototypes, deep structure genres, or text types, which are typically defined on the basis of linguistic criteriahowever, in practice, classifications of text types involve a strong functional component. The result of such mixing is a disparate set of analytical categories labeling text types. Rather than doing away with the problematic construct of text type, we propose a different approach whereby text type is reconceptualized as what we term the overall force of a text. Borrowing insights from speech act theory and Relevance theory we define force as an overarching textual function and argue that force is arrived at by processes of inference deploying contextual knowledge. Such an inferential approach allows for preserving the dynamism of this intuitively necessary superordinate construct.