Debunking 'Discourse Topic': Ideational Momentum and the Unpredictable Trajectory of Conversation

Mischa Park-Doob


There is a long-standing notion that in most instances of language use, the participants (whether speaking or writing) organize their production into coherent stretches identifiable as 'topics'. There is the further notion that these topics have easily definable beginnings and ends, allowing them to be labeled and strung together into a list or hierarchy which forms a useful schematic of what occurred during a given stretch of discourse.

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