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Linear Unit Grammar

In linguistics, Linear Unit Grammar (LUG) is an approach that describes language in chunks that unfold in real time, based on the notion that language is a sequential stream of spoken or written words. It therefore eschews a hierarchical description of language and its labels are based on discourse functions rather than on parts of speech (noun, verb, etc.) and syntactic roles (subject, object, etc.).

In LUG, there are two types of chunks, namely those that express the message and propositions of the text (M language), and those that express Organisation (O language), i.e. the structure which in other linguistic descriptions include such things as discourse markers, signposting, gambits, etc. as well as the speaker/writer's orientation, i.e. their attitude or stance to the message or to their interlocutor/reader.

It made its first appearance on the linguistic landscape in 2006 when John McHardy Sinclair and Anna Mauranen published "Linear Unit Grammar: Integrating Speech and Writing". In the introduction, the authors acknowledge the linguist, David Brazil, whose studies into the grammar of spoken English departed from traditional analyses.

  • Huang, Lan-fen (2013) The use of Linear Unit Grammar (LUG) in the investigation of discourse markers in spoken English'.' International Journal of Language Studies 7/3
  • Mason, Oliver (2007) Review of Linear Unit Grammar'.' TESL EJ 11/2
  • Sinclair, J.M., Mauranen, A. (2006) Linear Unit Grammar. John Benjamins
  • Stone, Lucy (2012) Grammatical patterning in literary texts and Linear Unit Grammar in the dialogue of Hills like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway. Innervate 4


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