Textual Function of Presupposition in Business Letter Discourse

Yu Chunmei


Presupposition refers to what is assumed by the speaker when uttering a specific sentence, usually realized by the use
of particular lexical items and/or linguistic constructions which are known as presupposition triggers, is an evitable
requirement for interpretation of the utterance. Based on the theme-rheme theory and thematic progression patterns
suggested by Hu Zhuanglin and Zhu Yongsheng, the author adopts qualitative method to make an analysis of the
textual function of presupposition which is realized by serving as themes in clauses, helping to construct different
thematic progression patterns and transmitting information in business letter discourse. Presupposition helps to
construct four main thematic progression patterns in business letter discourse, which can be conclude as T1→T2 (the
same theme), R1→R2 (the same rheme), R1→T2 (the rheme or part of the rheme in the previous clause becomes the
theme of the next clause) and T1+R1=T2 (both the theme and rheme of the preceding clause are encapsulated into a
noun phrase functioning as the theme of the frequent clause). The author chose 30 business letters selected from the
internet and several textbooks as the object of research, and they cover almost every stage of foreign trade.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/wjel.v7n1p35

World Journal of English Language
ISSN 1925-0703(Print)  ISSN 1925-0711(Online)

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