Previous research has shown that the use and distribution of a particular linguistic item are motivated by certain discourse situational characteristics. Hence, this study attempts to shed light to on how and to what extent discourse influences the behaviour of the connective while. More specifically, we examine some of the semantic, syntactic and discourse factors that are relevant to the frequency and distribution of the connective in question. In our study, we adopt a corpus-based approach, which provides an opportunity to observe the patterns of use in a variety of examples of irrespective of the stylistic preferences of a particular writer. The analysis has shown that discourse preferences in terms of type of link signalled the connective while are consistent with the purpose and content of a discourse itself: in fiction temporal while-clauses are actively exploited as they participate in the construction of a narrative time line whereas in non-fiction contrastive linkage is more common as it is a part of the writer`s argumentative line. In addition to that, we identified the pragmatic alternatives of the discourse links signalled by while. The syntactic and discourse-informational analysis provides further evidence of how while-clauses function in different types of discourse.
Keywords: discourse relations, connectives, coherence, positioning, information structure