PERIODICITY in Spanish: Information flow in the discourse of science.

Estela Inés Moyano

Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento

Universidad de Flores


The overall aim of this paper is to show how does Spanish work in order to organise the flow of the information in such an elaborated discourse as the discourse of science. To do this, I will first review the discourse semantic system of periodicity as proposed for English (Martin 1992a y b; Martin & Rose, 2007), showing how information can be predicted and summarised in discourse in order to organise different phases in the text. This pattern is what Martin and Rose (2007) have called metaphorically “bigger waves”, i.e. the setting up of macroThemes and macroNews in discourse. Following Martin (1992b, p. 437), the macro and hyperThemes predict patterns of interaction among lexical strings and Theme selection in following sentences. It is possible to say, then that macro and hyperThemes contain lexical units that open up lexical strings in the following discourse, so there is an interaction of the discourse-semantic systems of periodicity and ideation. To show this interaction, I need to turn into the “little waves” (Martin & Rose, 2007), i.e. the organisation of the flow of information in the clause, paying attention to how the opened up strings are distributed as Theme or New. This will allow me to show how Themes of the clauses of a phase of discourse construe the method of development of the text (Fries, 1981). I will then turn to the ways in which periodicity resources are realised in Spanish. To do this, I will present the lexico-grammatical system of theme in axial terms (Martin et al., 2013) and the realistion of its features in the structure of the Spanish clause (Moyano, 2016). Following this, I will move up to discourse-semantics and I will analyse the realisation of periodicity in Spanish scientific discourse, taking as an example a discussion section of a research article from the field of Agricultural Science written in that language (Acosta, Deregibus y Zucchini, 1994). In this analysis, I will demonstrate how this text is structured in terms of genre and how the information flow is organised in “little and bigger waves” (Martin & Rose, 2007) by options made in the system of periodicity in discourse and theme in lexicogrammar, as well as how the Themes of different clauses, i.e. making up a paragraph, realise the method of development of the text. In the third part of this paper I will address interpersonal resources that interact with periodicity in relevant way.



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Martin, J.R. & White, P.P.R. (2005). The language of evaluation. Appraisal in English. London: Palgrave

Moyano, E.I. (2015) La sección Discusión del artículo científico como género: Construcción del nuevo conocimiento y construcción del autor. Tesis Doctoral. Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Moyano, E.I.  (2016). Theme in English and Spanish: Different means of realization for the same textual function. In Special Issue on Communicative Dynamism, edited by Ben Clark and Jorge Arús Hita, English Text Construction, 9 (1) 190-220.


Primary data

Acosta, G., Deregibus, A. y Zucchini, F. (1994) Inclusión de pasto miel (Paspalum dilatatum Poir) en pasturas: 1. Efecto sobre la producción forrajera. Buenos Aires, Rev. Arg. Prod. Anim. 14 (3-4): 175-185.