Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Maria Stehle

Committee Members

Daniel H. Magilow, Chauncey J. Mellor, Stefanie Ohnesorg


When it comes to the production and reception of texts, most linguists will readily agree that writers as well as readers constitute and follow typical text patterns as they produce and read texts. It has become common today to describe text patterns as typical sets of manifestations of formal, thematic, and pragmatic features that arise from resemblances between different texts and that are inscribed in the communicative memories of a language community. However, speakers also transcend text patterns every day and oscillate between following and overstepping textual rules. This thesis investigates how speakers categorize linguistic knowledge in text patterns, and follow and transcend these patterns in everyday communication, using the example of Rainald Goetz’ text Loslabern. Excerpts from reviews about Loslabern illustrate how readers perceive the text: Some readers consider Loslabern as a ‘ruined’ text that falls apart, whereas others describe Loslabern as ‘ocean-like’ and fluid. Based on these reader experiences, the thesis attempts to answer the following central question: How can we describe ‘Loslabern’ and connatural texts from the viewpoint of textual linguistics in accordance with the readers’ intuitions? The thesis proposes and discusses three options: Textual linguistics may describe Loslabern i) as a broken text, ii) in terms of different concepts of text pattern, and iii) in terms of a novel concept of text pattern. The analytical section focuses on a discussion of different concepts of text pattern: discrete structural and prototypical pragmatic concepts. It examines how these concepts fall short of describing Loslabern in accordance with the readers’ intuitions. Following Wittgenstein and his concept of family resemblance, it creates a multi-dimensional and open concept of text patterns. This concept enables textual linguistics to depict the intertextual embeddedness of Loslabern and other texts systematically, to gain insight into the mechanisms of forming and transcending text patterns, and to describe Loslabern in accordance with the diversity of readers’ intuitions. In doing so, the thesis points at new directions in linguistics as well as literary studies.

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