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Text types. Focus on Description Paola Catenaccio
Texts distinctively correlate with the contextual factors in a communication situation. They conventionally focus the addressee’s attention only on specific factors and circumstances from the whole set of factors. Accordingly, texts can be grouped together and generally classified on the basis of their dominant contextual focus
Focus on factual phenomena in the spatial context: descriptive texts • Focus on factual/conceptual phenomena in the temporal context: narrative texts • Focus on de-composition (analysis) into constituent elements, or the composition (synthesis) from constituent elements of concepts: expository texts • Focus on the relations between concept: argumentative texts • Focus on observable future behaviour: instructive texts (Werlich 1983, pp.19 e 20)
Description 1 • SeaBoundless beaches of the finest sand, dream-like bays, sheer cliffs plunging into the sea, rocks carved by the wind to form sculptures with surprising forms, townships proud to show themselves in all their beauty to those arriving from the sea. The sea is the sound track to a journey through Italy, accompanying all travellers with its intense landscapes, its strong scent, its unexpected views, and the brilliant colours of its waters. Over seven thousand kilometres of coastline frame this country that extends smoothly into the Mediterranean. The itinerary offers enormous variety, from the steep slopes of the Ligurian Sea, to the pleasant beaches of Versilia, the villages clinging to the rocky Amalfi Coast, the rugged countryside of Calabria, and the boundless sands of the Adriatic coastline. Seven thousand kilometres dotted by a succession of welcoming ports, charming cities steeped in history, unspoilt beaches and solitary inlets. Not to mention the dozens of islands, from imposing Sicily and Sardinia to tiny Gorgona, which emerge from the waters to add a touch of magic to Italy's seas. Renowned islands such as Capri, favoured by the international jet set, charming spots such as the Aeolian islands, a Unesco world heritage site, or popular spots such as Elba, chosen by Napoleon as his place of exile. Then there are solitary islands such as Ustica, lying right in the heart of the Tyrrhenian Sea, or Pantelleria, Italy's southernmost outpost in the Mediterranean. Under the surface of the sea we found the gateway to another enchanted world. Thanks to the crystal clear water, you can admire the luxuriant sea bed with its multicoloured undersea forests and marvellous inhabitants: gigantic groupers, fascinating jellyfish, and shy moray eels. And all surrounded by vast shoals of colourful fish, which satisfy their curiosity by patrolling the countless wrecks resting on the bottom. • www.enit.it
Description2 Rotational machine with accessories Description: The machine consists of a rectangular cherry-wood base; a painted iron flywheel with a wooden handle and a vertical brass rotation shaft are fitted onto the base. The shaft has a join with a pressure screw for the steady mounting of the accessories to the rotation shaft. A robust leather belt allows for the transmission of the manual rotation of the flywheel to the rotation shaft. ACCESSORIES A - Watt's double centrifugal governorNumber of catalogue: 355385 X 90 X 30 [mm] This is a demonstrating model of Watt's famous safety device that regulates the inlet of steam into the boilers of the steam engine. It was projected and put into practice for the first time by the Scottish mechanician James Watt (1736-1819). Description: It consists of an iron frame that is formed by a double articulated parallelogram with brass joints, the main arms of which end with two identical brass spheres, and are supported by the two other arms, which are, in turn, bound to an anular slide running through the vertical rotation shaft. Function: When the frame rotates, the centrifugal force lifts the spheres as well as the slide. The slide was originally connected, by means of a small rod, to a valve that automatically controlled the movement of the steam engine through the regulation of the inlet of steam into the boiler's cylinder.
Thematic text base • A thematic text base is a text-initial linguistic unit which both structurally and semantically permits expansion into a text by sequences of coherent and completed linguistic units. • Founded in 1988 as a small software start-up, Ovid was one of the first businesses to recognize the rapidly expanding capabilities of information technology. (narrative) • Channel Islands travel guide • Friendly communities, a rugged coastline and gentle, unspoiled scenery make the islands ideal for anyone who wants to ‘get out there’ and explore on foot or by bike. (descriptive)
Introduction • Introductions are those semantic fillings of text units (i.e. sentences, paragraphs, sections, chapters, parts, books [as opposed to syntactic units]) which are conventionally or preferably chosen by encoders to initiate texts as thematic text base units. (W 149)
Further examples • DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive theme park is a one-of-a-kind gaming experience in the Downtown Disney area. Discover 5 floors of cutting-edge technology, virtual reality and 3D encounters fueled by Disney innovation and imagination. (Disneyworld website) • The bells are 10 in number, and hang at a distance of 290 feet above the street. The ascent of the tower is fraught with interest, particularly at night when the city lies quiet, like a sleeping animal, with only its twinkling lights and occasional rumble of a passing car to give evidence that the creature lives and is only sleeping. At night the monster court house is deserted except for a few officials and occasional visitors, and though the great arc lights in the marble corridors illume the long passages, there is seldom a footfall on the tesselated [sic] floor. (http://www.towerbellfoundation.org/bells1896.html)
Tasks (in groups or pairs) • Impressionistic description • Write a description of • the University building • A Milan landmark • Technical description • Write a description of • The multimedia machine in this room; • One of the vending machines in the hallway.