Textual macro-rules – Concept, types of rules, examples

We explain what textual macro rules are, and how the rules of suppression, selection, generalization and integration work.

textual macro rules
Textual macro rules are mental procedures to address the message.

What are textual macro rules?

In linguistics, it is known as textual macro-rules to the procedures applied by the receiver of a text to quickly grasp and assimilate its content general, that is, its macrostructure. The receiver can be a reader, if it is written, or a listener, if it is spoken. These are mental procedures that approach the message in a different way to extract the general information that summarizes it from it.

These macro rules were formulated in 1977 by the Dutch linguist Teun van Dijk (1943-), in an attempt to classify the discourse comprehension strategies applied by its recipients. According to the theorist, there are four categories of textual macro-rules, according to the mechanisms they apply to the text: suppression, selection, generalization and integration rules.

Although they can be studied separately, they are usually applied in a joint and related way, so that each contributes in its own way to the understanding of the text. We will see each of these categories separately below.

See also: Reading

Rules of deletion or omission

The suppression or omission rules are those that remove or ignore information that is not considered relevant for general understanding of the text. Thus, discarding what is considered accessory, attention can be focused on the core of the information, which will be what is retained in a summary.

For example, with the following text: “The team scored six goals in the final match against China, refereed by Argentine Montazzo, and thus qualified for the world cup that will take place in Qatar.” It is likely that by applying a suppression framework, the receiver will omit the portions “arbitrated by the Argentine Montazzo” since the previous and subsequent text does not attribute any relevance to said information, but rather it is an additional piece of information.

Thus, the mental summary of reading will be that the soccer team scored six goals against China and qualified for the World Cup in Qatar.

Selection rules

Similar to delete rules, selection rules choose in the discourse the key elements to recompose a global meaning, leaving out everything that is descriptive or secondary. To do this, exercises a process of prioritizing information.

Returning to the previous example, if the text were “The team scored six strokes in the final match against China, refereed by the Argentine Montazzo, and thus qualified for the world cup that will take place in Qatar”, a macro selection rule would ignore the data of color and would compose a mental summary with the strictly basic for the global sense: “The team won and qualified for the World Cup.”

Generalization rules

The generalization rules are those that allow the receiver to abstract from the details and compose a global sense, appealing to larger categories (hyperonyms) instead of going to the specific (hyponyms). This procedure supposes an increase in the scale of the information.

Thus, if the message were “My father and mother returned from the market with a basket full of apples, pears and oranges”, the macro generalization rules allow us to summarize “apples, pears and oranges” in a broader category: “fruits” , and do the same with “my father and my mother”: “my parents”. thus, a mental summary of the text would say that “my parents returned from the market with a basket full of fruits.”

Rules of integration or construction

Finally, the integration or construction rules are those that we allow adding or combining two or more concepts into one, applying the context and knowledge of the world that we own. Therefore, the informative summary can agglutinate many actions and events into one of a more general nature.

For example, if the message were “I went to the doctor’s office on the day of my appointment, he examined me, examined my pulse, observed my eyes, and found me in good condition”, it is perfectly feasible that the first concepts are integrated into only one: “I went to the doctor”, since everyone knows more or less what they go to the doctor for and what their routine checks tend to be. The mental summary, then, would be “I went to the doctor and he found me in good condition.”