A similar term is discourse analysis. Both are mostly concerned with natural language use; discourse analysis would include spoken language. Speech is also the parent of rhetoric, the ancient study of persuasive speaking. In a similar way, literary criticism parallels text grammar, because both concentrate on the printed word. A text grammar approach puts emphasis on the linguistic structure of a text, rather than its cultural or symbolic meaning.
A text is a coherent body of sentences. Coherent means they are linked by a consistent theme. The text ends when completion is signalled. For example, when a problem introduced at the start is solved, or when a promised discussion has reached a conclusion.
Each text focuses on certain things. If texts are grouped by what they are doing, then there are five basic text types:
- Description. Common in science and technology.
- Narration. Covers the passage of time, and is common in the humanities.
- Exposition. In which the narrator or writer offers a detailed analysis and explanation of some issue.
- Argumentation. In which the communicator compares alternative points of view, judges and persuades.
- Instruction. In which the communicator tells readers what to do. Uses "action-demanding sentences in sequence".
Many texts, of course, can and do have a mixture of two or more of these types.
- Werlich, Egon 1976. A text grammar of English. Quelle & Meyer, Heidelberg.
- van Dijk T.A. 1972. Some aspects of text grammar: a study in theoretical linguistics. The Hague, Mouton.
- van Dijk T.A. (ed) 1985. Handbook of discourse analysis. 4 vols, Academic Press, London.
- de Beaugrande R. and Dressler W. 1981. Introduction to text linguistics. Longman, London.
- Alternatively, a text is a communicative event (de Beaugrande). That, however, is a bit too broad.