Already since my early (1977) book Text and Context, I have been interested in a theory of context.

This project culminated in a large (700 pp) book, which however for obvious reasons (no publisher today publishes theoretical books of this size) had to be split into two books, one on context, language, cognition and discourse, and one on context, social cognition, society, and culture.

The example used throughout this book is a speech by Tony Blair persuading British parliament to accept his motion to invade Iraq.

The last chapter of the second book analyzes this whole debate, and thus also implies a more political application of the theory. The main thesis of the theory is that contexts are not, as was hitherto assumed, some kind of social environment of talk and text, but rather the interpretation by the participants of the ongoingly relevant dimensions of this social environment.

This interpretation is represented in so-called ‘context models’ in episodic memory.

These context models control all the relevant aspects of the production and comprehension of discourse that vary with the social situation.


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Books on Context

Text and context

Explorations in the semantics and pragmatics of discourse . London: Longman, 1977.

Spanish translation

Texto y contexto

Madrid: Catedra, 1980.

Italian translation

Testo e contesto

Bologna: Il Mulino, 1981.

Discourse and Context

A sociocognitive approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Spanish translation

Gedisa? Discuro y contexto

Barcelona, 2012.

Portuguese translation


São Paulo, 2012.

Society and discourse

How Social Contexts Influence Text and Talk.
Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Spanish translation

Sociedad y discurso

Gedisa, Barcelona

Articles on context

Pragmatics, presuppositions and context grammars.

In: S.J. Schmidt, (Ed.) Pragmatik/Pragmatics II,
Munich: Fink, 1976, 53-82.

A note on the partial equivalence of text grammars and context grammars

In: M. Loflin & J. Silverberg, (Eds.) Discourse and inference in cognitive anthropology. The Hague: Mouton, 1978, 135-144.

Acceptability in context

1974. In: S. Greenbaum, (Ed.), Acceptability in Language.
The Hague: Mouton, 1977, 39-62.

Context and cognition

Knowledge frames and speech act comprehension.
Journal of Pragmatics 1, 1977, 211-232.

Relevance in text and context. Paper

Nobel Symposium on Text Processing, Stockholm, 1980.
In: S. Allen, (Ed.) Text processing.
Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1982, 415-432.

Context models and text processing

In M. Stamenow (Ed.). Language Structure, Discourse and the Access to Consciousness (pp. 189-226).
Amsterdam: Benjamins, 1997.

Towards a Theory of Context and Experience Models in Discourse Processing

In Herre van Oostendorp & Susan Goldman (Eds.), The construction of mental representations during reading. (pp. 123-148).
Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1999.

Discourse, ideology and context

Folia Linguistica, XXX/1-2, 2001, 11-40 (Special issue edited by Ruth Wodak).

Algunos principios de la teoría del contexto

ALED. Revista Latinoamericana de Estudios del Discurso 1(1)
2001, 69-82.

Algunos principios de la teoría del contexto

ALED. Revista Latinoamericana de Estudios del Discurso 1(1)
2001, 69-82.

Text and context of parliamentary debates

In P. Bayley (Eds.), Cross-cultural Perspective on Parliamentary Discourse. (pp. 339-372). Benjamins, Amsterdam, 2004.

Spanish version

Textos y contextos de los debates parlamentarios

Published in the internet journal Tonosdigital 2 (Noviembre 2001).

More info

Contextual knowledge management in discourse production. ”

A CDA perspective. In Ruth Wodak and Paul Chilton (Eds.), A New Agenda in (Critical) Discourse Analysis. (pp. 71-100)
Amsterdam: Benjamins, 2005.

Critical Context Studies

Lecture for the First International Conference of Critical Discourse Analysis, Valencia, May 2004.

Macro Contexts.

Lecture First International Conference on Discourse and Intercultural Relations, University of Murcia, September 2004.

Discourse, context and cognition.

Discourse Studies, 8(1), 159-177, 2006.

Contextualization in parliamentary discourse

Aznar, Iraq and the pragmatics of lying.
Congress on oral discourse, Almería (Spain), November 23-25, 2005.

Comments on Context and Conversation

In Norman Fairclough, Giuseppina Cortese & Patrizia Ardizzone (Eds), Discourse and Contemporary Social Change. Bern: Peter Lang, 2007.

Context Theory and the Foundation of Pragmatics

December 2007. Plenary Lecture Congress of the Pragmatics Society of Japan, Osaka, December 2007.
Studies in Pragmatics, 10 (2008), 1-13.

Text, context and knowledge


Partial French version

Revue de sémio-linguistique des textes et discours

published in Semen, 27 (avril, 2009), pp. 127-155.


In Karen Tracy (Ed.),
International Encyclopedia of Language and Social Interaction.
London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015.

Epistemic Context Analysis

In special issue of Signos dedicated to the memory of Giovanni Parodi