E-encyclopedia of Discourse Structures (EDS)

Teun A. van Dijk teun at HUM.UVA.NL
Sun Feb 13 15:09:53 UTC 2000

(I posted this message already on the DISCOURS list of LINGUIST,
but since not all of you may read that list, I also send it to
you, and would love to have your opinions too; those on DISCOURS
were all raving, which is promising for the future of the project;
in the meantime I have asked LINGUIST to host the EDS website on
their server... If you like this idea, please send IDEAS to improve
the project: I see this as a joint venture of the community of
discourse analysts).


I am thinking of organizing an electronic Encyclopedia of Discourse
Structures (EDS). This message is asking your opinion about this

This EDS would feature small essays of about 1000 words each about a
possibly large number (say between 500 and 1000) of structural and other
properties of text or talk, at all possible levels of description. Each
item would consist of a brief theoretical part, an illustration on one
or more examples, a very selective bibliography, and a number of
internet links to a full bibliography, lists, specialized scholars in
that area, or any other information on that particular item. Items may
be quite general (e.g., about intonation, discourse syntax, pronouns,
coherence, metaphor, speech acts, politeness, turntaking, power,
ideology, or mental models, etc) as well as more detailed (questions,
generalizations, conversation opening, agreement, news report schemas,

Each item should ideally be written by one of THE specialists (if any)
on a particular structure, who will also be responsable for the
continuous update of an item (new theory, new bibliography, new internet
links). If very different theoretical views exist on the account of a
very important structure, I see no reason not to accept two or even
three items on the "same" structure, but in general items should be as
'general' and as little 'partisan' as possible.

The aim of the encyclopedia is especially practical and pedagogical: You
briefly want to know what is now known about structure X or want to have
some references on discourse strategy Y. Such information is also very
relevant for students and other newcomers to the field who want some
first information on some item. Finally, the encyclopedia may be useful
as a general "checklist", when you want to set up a research project on
a specific genre or corpus or want to analyze empirical data, wondering
which structures might most relevantly be studied.

New items will be reviewed by a panel of specialized discourse analysts,
who may ask reviews and comments from other specialists. Each large area
of the encyclopedia would have its own editor who maintains contact with
the specialists on specific items.

Access to the encyclopedia is free and contributions are nly voluntary.

Probably the most practical format to organize the accessibility of the
encyclopedia is to set up a special web-page for it. We may ask a
university dept. with a strong presence in discourse analysis and some
resources to host the web-site.

My request to the subscribers to this list is to let me (or the whole
list) know whether
- they think this is a good idea,
- what would make the idea even better,
- they have other suggestions or critique,
- they are a specialist on some specific structure,
- ..and whether they in principle would like to write an item for the

Best wishes



Teun A. van Dijk
Program of Discourse Studies
University of Amsterdam

In 2000:

Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Institut Universitari de Linguistica Aplicada (IULA)
Rambla 30-32
08002 Barcelona (Espana)

Phone: (0034) 93-272.1200 (casa/home)
FAX:   (0034) 93-272.0106 (casa/home)

E-mail: teun at hum.uva.nl
Web-site: http://www.hum.uva.nl/teun

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