Sequentiality and follow-ups

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A pragmatic view of text production and consumption involves placing the text in a total world context. This context should not be seen as a static collocation of features or parameters; rather, it is a constantly evolving conglomerate of ever-changing conditions, both human and worldly. In particular, context is never fixed in time; the way we act in a context involves a constant adjustment of our activities, both verbal and non-verbal, and a recalibration of their values in relation to the sequence of acts of which they are parts and to the situations in which they occur. This point of view has consequences for our understanding of both world and text: what has been called ‘sequentiality’ is therefore a main constituent of our pragmatic text activities and a necessary precondition for our understanding and handling of text-in-world, either written, spoken, or acted; in particular this holds when it comes to ‘follow up’ on previous discourse. Moreover, conceptualizing and realizing context as a dynamic process, rather than a static entity is of importance not only theoretically; this line of thought has fruitful effects when applied to human discourse, in particular when we try to understand the mechanisms of conversation, as evinced in the practice of ‘follow-ups’.


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