A pre-theoretical term used in linguistics and phonetics to refer to a stretch of language recorded for the purpose of analysis and description. What is important to note is that texts may refer to collections of written or spoken material (the latter having been transcribed in some way), e.g. conversation, monologues, rituals, and so on. The term textual meaning is sometimes used in semantics as part of a classification of types of meaning, referring to those factors affecting the interpretation of a sentence which derive from the rest of the text in which the sentence occurs – as when, at a particular point in a play or novel, a sentence or word appears whose significance can only be appreciated in the light of what has gone before.
The study of texts has become a defining feature of a branch of linguistics referred to (especially in Europe) as textlinguistics, and ‘text’ here has central theoretical status. Texts are seen as language units which have a definable communicative function, characterized by such principles as cohesion, coherence and informativeness, which can be used to provide a formal definition of what constitutes their identifying textuality or texture. On the basis of these principles, texts are classified into text types, or genres, such as road signs, news reports, poems, conversations, etc.