Discourse topic

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A discourse topic is the central participant or idea of a stretch of connected discourse or dialogue. The topic is what the discourse is about. The notion is often confused with the related notion of sentence-level topic/theme, which is frequently defined as "what the sentence is about".[1] Discourse topics have been of considerable interest to linguists because of the relations between the topic of a discourse and various aspects of the grammatical structure of the sentence, including strategies for referent-tracking (including the use of voice,[2] inversion,[3] switch-reference markers, and obviation), topic-chaining, and pronominalization.


  1. ^ Sapir, Edward. 1921. Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. New York: Harcourt, Brace.
  2. ^ Givón, Talmy (Ed.) (1994), Voice and Inversion. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  3. ^ Zúñiga, Fernando (2006) Deixis and Alignment. Inverse systems in indigenous languages of the Americas. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.