Bruce Lambert (bruce@ludwig.pmad.uic.edu)
Wed, 23 Apr 97 15:04:09 -0600

There is a great deal of evidence that the T-unit has some special status as a
meaningful unit of discourse. Hunt (1965) appears to have coined the term
T-unit to stand for "minimum terminable unit." According to Hillocks, a T-unit
is "a main clause with all of its appended modifiers, including subordinate
clauses." (1986, p. 64). The T-unit has been the subject of extensive research
in written composition (see Hillocks for a review). A similar unit, called the
intonation unit, has been identified and carefully studied in the context of
oral discourse (see Chafe, 1994). Good luck.

Hunt, K. W. (1965). Grammatical structures written at three grade
levels. NCTE Research report #3. Champaign, IL: NCTE, 1965a. ED 113 735. (NCTE
stands for National Council of Teachers of English)

Hillocks, G. Jr. (1986). Research on written composition: New
directions for teaching. ERIC Clearinghouse: Urbana, IL.

Chafe, W. (1994). Discourse, consciousness and time: The flow and
displacement of conscious experience in speaking and writing. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press.

Bruce Lambert, Ph.D.
University of Illinois at Chicago