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Text ( Latin texere , `` weave '', `` flechten '') denotes in non-scientific language usage a delimited, coherent, mostly written linguistic utterance, in the broader sense also non-written but writable language information (e.g. a song , film or an improvised theater performance). From a linguistic point of view, a text is the linguistic form of a communicative act .


Texts are determined on the one hand by pragmatic , ie situation-related, "text-external" features, on the other hand by linguistic, "text-internal" features. In linguistics and communication science , many different text definitions exist side by side, which use different textuality criteria to separate texts and “non-texts”. Broader text terms also include illustrations or elements of non-verbal communication (such as facial expressions and gestures ) in the text. Under certain circumstances, even a pure sequence of images can be regarded as text if it can be seen to fulfill a communicative function. The term “discontinuous” text from the field of language didactics includes texts that are not written continuously and that sometimes use non-linguistic means, such as forms, tables and lists, graphics and diagrams.

Text and writing

Text can be represented using a font whose characters encode phonemes , syllables or words or concepts . Different cultures use different alphabets for this . The introduction of writing created the possibility of archiving texts such as historiography, stories and legends for posterity . Much of the historical knowledge comes from written records that have been archived or happened to be preserved. Texts from cultures with a written tradition differ in their structure from texts from cultures in which oral tradition plays a greater role. In the humanities, cultures for which no written documents have survived are classified as prehistory and early history. Thus, an indirect, but nevertheless very significant definition of the subject of historical science is given through the transmission of texts.

Textuality criteria and text definitions

As mentioned above, a more precise, scientific examination leads to more complex attempts at definition and description. The property of "being text" is called textuality , the linguistic investigation of texts is text linguistics . This discipline provides various textuality criteria.

Robert-Alain de Beaugrande and Wolfgang Ulrich Dressler presented a number of such criteria in 1981. These criteria on the one hand relate to the characteristics of the text itself ( cohesion , so formal cohesion and coherence , so logical cohesion), on the other hand the characteristics of a communication situation in which the text in question is produced or is used in which it ( intentionality , acceptability , Informativity , situationality ).

Cohesion and coherence are among the most widely accepted criteria for textuality, but here too there are deviations: There are definitely texts that consist of disjointed words or even sounds , sometimes also of sound paintings reduced to mere noises , and which are, on the whole, multi-layered interpretable, achieve one's own kind of textuality (for example Dada poems).

This is where the situation-related textuality criteria come into play: Texts are also determined by the fact that a sender produces them with a specific intention and / or a recipient accepts them as such. Whether a text is acceptable to a particular recipient depends heavily on whether the recipient can establish a connection between the utterance received and his / her situation, i.e., can "incorporate" the text into his or her imagination ( situationality ), and whether the text is informative for him , that is, contains expected and unexpected, known and new elements in a certain ratio. To return to the example of the Dada poem: a text that is not obviously cohesive or coherent may be acceptable as such if the recipient assumes that the sender's intention requires a high level of surprising or non-standard elements in the text.

The intertextuality as the last of Textualitätskriterien after de Beaugrande and Dressler is the property of a text to stand and with other texts in connection to refer to them. In literary texts, this is often done through conscious references and quotations , but intertextuality can be expressed e.g. B. also find in it that use text the usual conventions of his text type met.

The individual textuality criteria listed here are in part controversial in their interpretation by de Beaugrande / Dressler. It is generally accepted that a text has a recognizable communicative function that is determined by the communicative intent of the sender and the expectations of the recipient that it is delimited and thematically oriented as an utterance, i.e. H. has a core content. Susanne Göpferich offers such a text definition from a communicative-pragmatic perspective:

“A text is a thematically and / or functionally oriented, coherent linguistic or linguistic-figurative complex that was created with a certain […] communication intention […], fulfills a recognizable communicative function […] and forms a complete unit in terms of content and function . "

- Göpferich, 1995, p. 56f.


  • Doris Bachmann-Medick : Textuality in the cultural and literary studies. Limits and Challenges. In this. (Ed.): Culture as text. The anthropological turn in literary studies. 2nd Edition. Francke, Tübingen / Basel 2004, pp. 298-330. ISBN 3-8252-2565-8 .
  • Robert-Alain de Beaugrande , Wolfgang Ulrich Dressler: Introduction to text linguistics. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1981, ISBN 3-484-22028-7 ( Concepts of Linguistics and Literature Studies 28).
  • Klaus Brinker : Linguistic Text Analysis. An introduction to basic concepts and methods. 6th edition. Erich Schmidt, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-503-07948-3 .
  • Hadumod Bußmann : Lexicon of Linguistics (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 452). 2nd, completely revised edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 1990, ISBN 3-520-45202-2 .
  • Susanne Göpferich: Text types in natural sciences and technology. Pragmatic typology - contrasting - translation. Forum for Foreign Language Research 27. Narr, Tübingen 1995.
  • Susanne Göpferich: Text, text type, text type. In: Mary Snell-Hornby et al .: Handbuch Translation. Stauffenburg, Tübingen 1999, ISBN 3-86057-992-4 .
  • Susanne Horstmann: Text. In: Reallexikon der Deutschen Literaturwissenschaft . Volume 3, de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2003, ISBN 3-11-015664-4 , pp. 594–597.
  • Stephan chamber, Roger Lüdeke (ed.): Texts on the theory of the text. Reclam, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-15-017652-2 .
  • Ludolf Kuchenbuch , Uta Kleine (Ed.): "Textus" in the Middle Ages. Components and situations of word use in the semantic field of writing. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2006, ISBN 978-3-525-35868-9 .
  • Maximilian Scherner: "TEXT". Studies on the history of concepts. In: Archive for the history of concepts. 39, 1996, pp. 103-160.

Web links

Wiktionary: Text  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Hadumod Bußmann: Lexicon of Linguistics. 1990, p. 776.
  2. ^ Hadumod Bußmann: Lexicon of Linguistics. 1990, p. 776.
  3. ^ Susanne Göpferich: Text, text type, text type. In: Mary Snell-Hornby et al .: Handbuch Translation. 1999, p. 61.