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Book: Rhetorical Structure Theory and Its Applications

Chapter: Rhetorical System and Structure Theory: The System of RHETORICAL RELATIONS

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.41442


By integrating classical RST with the logico-semantic relations in SFL, Matthiessen (forthcoming) has developed the Rhetorical System and Structure Theory. Such an integration considers RST relations as extensions of the rather broad logico-semantic relations, providing a more elaborate system useful for both text analysis and the application of RST in different contexts. In this chapter, we elaborate on the choices in the system of RHETORICAL RELATIONS, involving choices made in various subsystems such as NUCLEARITY (TAXIS), LOGICO-SEMANTIC TYPE, ORIENTATION and RECURSION.

Also, we will illustrate how the system of RHETORICAL RELATIONS can be viewed trinocularly in terms of the various semiotic dimensions in SFL. For instance, from the perspective of stratification (see Chapter 1), rhetorical relations can be viewed (i) from above, i.e. be approached from context in relation to the three contextual parameters of field, tenor and mode, (ii) from roundabout, i.e. be considered systemically in terms of the system of RHETORICAL RELATIONS, and (iii) from below, i.e. be considered in terms of lexicogrammar and see how rhetorical relations are realized in wording in systems such as CLAUSE COMPLEXING and CONJUNCTION.

Chapter Contributors

  • Bo Wang ( - bowang) 'Sun Yat-sen University, China'
  • Yuanyi Ma ( - myuanyi) 'Guangdong Polytechnic of Science and Technology'