Toward a Competence Theory of Genre
Another product of my youthful infatuation with the latest linguistic theories.
The paper argues that a language is not a homogeneous entity, but an ensemble of overlapping dialects, each characterized by its own set of rules, many of which, of course, may be shared by other dialects. This differentiation follows not only social and geographic lines, but also pragmatic lines of usage and purpose, among which genre plays an important role. The article deletion that takes place in the sentence place chicken in oven is for instance allowed in recipes, but ungrammatical in laws or essays. Taking exception to the classical structuralist view, this paper argues that rules relating to or defining genres--a term I do not restrict to the literary domain-- do not constitute a second-order semiotic system, riding piggy-back on the linguistic code, but should be viewed as an extension of the pragmatic component of the speakerís linguistic competence. To support this thesis, the paper surveys the various types of rules necessary to a genre theory, examines the problem of their formulation in the framework of a semantically based transformational text grammar, and offers a discussion of their hermeneutic function.
On the What, Why and How of Generic Taxonomy
When Je is Un Autre: Fiction, Quotation, and the Performative Analysis