Supraphrasal Units

The term supra-phrasal unit (SPU) is used to denote a unit larger than a sentence. It generally comprises a number of sentences interdependent structurally (usually by means of pronouns, connectives, tense-forms) and semanticallу (one definite thought idea or topic is dealt with). Such a span of utterance is also characterized by the fact that it can be extracted from the context without losing its relative semantic independence. This cannot be said of the sentence, which, while representing a complete syntactical unit, may, however, lack the quality of independence. A sentence from the stylistic point of view does not necessarily express one idea, as it is defined in most manuals of grammar. It may express only part of one idea. Thus the sentence: "Guy glanced at his wife's untouched plate", if taken out of the context, will be perceived as a part of a larger span of utterance where the situation will be made clear and the purport of verbal expression more complete.

So a supra-phrasal unit may be defined as a combination of sentences presenting a structural and semantic unity backed up by rhythmic and melodic unity. Any SPU will lose its unity if it suffers breaking.

But what are the principles on which the singling out of an SPU can be maintained? In order to give an answer to this question, it is first of all necessary to deepen our understanding of the term utterance. As a stylistic term the word 'utterance' must be expanded. Any utterance from a stylistic point of view will serve to denote a certain span of speech (language-in-action) in which we may observe coherence, interdependence of the elements, one definite idea, and last but not least, the purport of the writer.


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