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Issues in Applied Linguistics

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Frames and Coherence in Sam Shepard's Fool for Love


This study in linguistic stylistics examines the coherence in Sam Shepard's play Fool for Love by focussing on the relationship of speech exchanges to frames and the relationship of frames to one another. A frame, defined as the activity that the speakers are engaged in, consists of two types: (1) single-speaker frames, which involve only one speaker and an implied or passive listener, and (2) multi-speaker frames, which involve more than one speaker. The following paper, however, will examine only multi-speaker frames.

Because frame analysis enables one to focus on units larger than those usually examined in linguistic stylistics, it can be seen to provide a clearer understanding of textual coherence in dramatic texts. Specifically, the study argues that both coherence in Shepard's play results when speech exchanges and frames are formed into patterns which the reader perceives as unified wholes, and that coherence may result when even discontinuous utterances are organized into a pattern which the reader can perceive as a unified whole. On a larger scale, it is shown that discontinous frames can themselves be arranged into a pattern which can be perceived as coherent by the reader, and that overall coherence depends not upon continuity between frames, but rather on the arrangement of discontinous or continuousframes into a coherent whole.

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