Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

John C. Crawford


This thesis deals with the way paragraphs, sentences, and clauses are brought together in Nembi discourse to form a coherent unit. Insights into discourse structure and discourse analysis gained from Joseph Grimes, Robert E. Longacre, and Michael A. K. Halliday are applied in the study of Nembi narrative and procedural texts. The thesis is based on the analysis of fourteen texts: four procedural and ten narrative. Six of the narratives are ancestral legends, and four are based on recent events. The analysis has led to several conclusions about discourse in the Nembi language.

Discourse is organized into an introduction, a body, and a closure. The introduction, which consists of only one paragraph, establishes the setting, names the topic, and identifies the main participants. The body of the discourse is made up of one or more paragraphs that develop the topic. In the body there are two sequences of action going on simultaneously, one giving primary information, and the other giving secondary or background information. The closure consists of one paragraph which brings the discourse to a proper conclusion.

The phenomena that work together to give cohesion to Nembi discourse are linkage and chaining. Linkage is an anaphoric relationship in that it repeats information that was given previously in the text. Chaining is a type of cataphoric relationship in that it predicts whether the next clause will have the same or a different subject.

The four paragraph types are opening, closing, sequential, and consequential. Sequential paragraphs relate a series of events. A cause-effect relationship may be implied, but none is asserted. Consequential paragraphs assert a cause-effect relationship between the primary information and the secondary information.

The two basic sentence types are verbal and nonverbal. Sentences may be conjoined to other sentences.

Halliday's notion of systemic grammar is useful for explaining the Nembi clause system. A chart is developed illustrating the choices available to a speaker when he produces a clause. He must choose to produce either an independent or dependent clause. If he chooses to produce a dependent clause, he must choose between adjunct and medial clauses. If he chooses a medial clause, he must then choose between chronological, durative, resultative, or purposive clauses.

Included in

Linguistics Commons