عنوان مقاله [English]
The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran is a foundational document that serves as the cornerstone of the nation's legal and political framework. As a written constitution, it necessitates careful and nuanced interpretation to ensure its effective implementation. The process of interpreting the Constitution is a complex endeavor, encompassing two overarching approaches: the originalist and the non-originalist. According to Article 98 of the Constitution, the Guardian Council, as the competent interpreter of the Constitution, predominantly adheres to the originalist approach. This approach places paramount importance on the text itself, inviting the application of linguistic tools to unlock its deeper meanings. Among these tools, one that stands out as particularly relevant is text coherence, a concept rooted in linguistic theory.
Text coherence, in essence, refers to the structural attributes of a text or statement that unify its various components, creating a systematic and interconnected framework within the discourse. Scholars have developed several models to measure and establish text coherence, and intriguingly, some of these models have found practical application in the interpretation of the Constitution. This research, conducted through a meticulous descriptive-analytical method, seeks to address a fundamental question:
"What constitutes a systematic approach to interpreting the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, grounded in text coherence patterns?" To explore this question thoroughly, we delve into four key text coherence patterns: "Halliday and Hassan's coherence pattern," "Kintsch and van Dijk's Discourse Model," "Rhetorical Structure Theory," and "Foundation Subject Analysis." These patterns serve as invaluable tools for crafting a coherent interpretation of the Constitution at three distinct levels: individual words or phrases, underlying principles, and overarching thematic elements.
Halliday and Hassan's pioneering work in 1976 categorized the tools that foster cohesion in the English language into three essential categories: grammatical cohesion, lexical cohesion, and relational cohesion. Grammatical coherence tools encompass reference, substitution, and deletion, offering a framework for understanding how different parts of the text interact. Lexical coherence tools delve into repetition, co-occurrence, semantic synonymy, semantic contrast, and semantic inclusion, providing insights into how language choices contribute to textual coherence. Meanwhile, relational coherence tools, which include additional, causal, contrastive, and temporal links, reveal the intricate relationships between elements of the discourse.
Kintsch and van Dijk's seminal work in 1978 laid the foundation for understanding the prerequisites for constructing a coherent text base. In particular, they highlighted the significance of referential coherence as a linchpin for semantic coherence. Referential coherence centers on the alignment of topics across propositions, and as such, it emerges as a crucial criterion for determining the overall coherence of a text.
Rhetorical Structure Theory, a groundbreaking framework introduced by Mann and Thompson in 1987 and 1988, offers a deeper understanding of text organization by elucidating the relationships between different parts of a text. This theory underscores the hierarchical and interconnected structure of texts, where each component plays a distinct role in relation to others. This hierarchical structure ensures that texts maintain a coherent and logical flow, a critical element in the interpretation of any document, particularly a constitution.
In 2004, Watson-Todd introduced the concept of Foundation Subject Analysis, which represents a significant advancement in text analysis. This method identifies key concepts within a text and delineates their hierarchical relationships, allowing for a comprehensive analysis of text coherence. Two fundamental relationships connect these key concepts: McCarthy's inclusion relationship and the cause-effect relationship. These relationships play a pivotal role in establishing the logical and thematic coherence of a text.
Collectively, these four text coherence patterns serve as invaluable tools in the interpretation of the Constitution. Their application begins with contextualization, a process that involves breaking down the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran into manageable segments. This is essential because, at its core, the Constitution spans 12,910 words, comprising 177 principles, 14 chapters, and a preamble. Analyzing this extensive document necessitates a structured approach that takes into account the patterns of continuity and coherence within the text.
In the interpretation of the Constitution, several common scenarios arise, each requiring a nuanced approach. The first scenario involves the interpretation of individual words or phrases within the Constitution, often arising when ambiguity or uncertainty surrounds a particular term. In such cases, a systematic approach at three levels proves invaluable. First, the interpretation of the desired word or phrase should align with the principle in which it is situated. Second, a systematic approach to the chapter containing the word or phrase should be employed. Third, the entire Constitution should be considered in the interpretation process, ensuring that the interpretation remains consistent with the document as a whole. The patterns presented in the previous section offer four distinct tools at the vocabulary or phrase level: reference, substitution, deletion, and return.
When the intention is to interpret one of the principles enshrined in the Constitution, a systematic approach is equally crucial. Such an approach entails examining the principle as an integral part of a larger system and considering its place within the broader framework of the Constitution. Here, the text coherence tool of relational coherence becomes invaluable. Some principles may formally overlap with others within the Constitution. By drawing on the insights provided by rhetorical structure theory and Kinch and Van Dyck's discourse model, these overlapping principles can be jointly interpreted from a shared perspective, offering a more comprehensive understanding of their implications.
In the analysis of issues based on the Constitution, the method of analyzing the foundational subject should also be employed. In this approach, the focus shifts from principles to key issues that may not be explicitly defined in the Constitution. This approach involves identifying the central issue and determining the relevance of other principles based on its significance. However, it's worth noting that this approach can be particularly challenging in cases where the Constitution lacks clarity on a specific issue, highlighting the critical role of text coherence patterns in guiding the interpretation process.
In conclusion, the interpretation of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran is a multifaceted endeavor that demands precision and systematic analysis. Text coherence patterns, as outlined in this research, serve as indispensable tools for interpreting this foundational document. By applying these patterns at various levels, from individual words and phrases to overarching principles and thematic elements, interpreters can unlock a deeper and more coherent understanding of the Constitution. In doing so, they contribute to the preservation and effective application of the Constitution's principles in the legal and political landscape of Iran.