Prof. Michael Hoey was one of Britain’s leading academic linguists and language theorists who made transformative contributions in the areas of text and discourse analysis, and in corpus-based lexicology and dictionary-building. Hoey’s body of academic work spanned five decades, during which linguistic theory underwent a sea-change. Hoey was one of scholars not only creating the change but also making it comprehensible to a worldwide audience.
Hoey’s early work, in days when dealing with discourse above the level of the sentence was still a novelty, presents a fascinating picture of how relations among sections of texts can be categorised into a limited set of patterns, including Sequence (e.g. Time, Consequence) and Matching (e.g. Contrast, Exemplification) relations.
Hoey viewed all discourse, including writing, as a dialogue of sorts, and his work on cohesion, which aims to aid receiver comprehension, shows how the majority of the physical signals of the semantic relations connecting the different parts of a text are lexical items of some sort, and reversed tradition notions of the frequency and significance of lexical cohesion in relation to grammatical.
His later work on lexical priming demonstrated in meticulous detail how extremely complex the associative behaviour of all lexical items is. It presents a new theory of language, of how we internalise knowledge of this associative behaviour by exposure to language, reproduce it in our own speech and thus continue the cycle of lexical primingof others in our various language communities.