Participant Tracking - workshop Lise Fontaine Cardiff University LinC Summer School and Workshop 2010
outline • Notion of Participant • Referring vs non-referring • Identification • Tracking • Multifunctional nature of referring expressions
participant A participant is “a person, place, or thing, abstract or concrete, capable of functioning as Agent (or Medium) in transitivity”. Martin, 1992:129 e.g. John’s friend who Mary had never met 3 participants ‘Mary’ John ‘the friend’
identification and tracking Participant Identification “refers to the strategies language use to get people, places and things into a text and refer to them once there”. Martin, 1992 I saw John last night and I met his friend. He seems like a nice guy.
Referring – nominal groups - coreferentiality • It doesn’t have to exist to be referring • Unicorns are real. • Negation doesn’t mean the expression isn’t referring • *I don’t have a car, it isn’t red. • I didn’t see John, he wasn’t there. • cf. ‘anyone’ (Martin, 1992:106) • Did you find anyone? Yes, they’re waiting outside • I didn’t find anyone. *Bring them in • No, they must have left. • Indefinite descriptions • I saw a man this morning or Rockets are dangerous
Identifying and tracking (maintaining) a referent • How are participants introduced? • How are they ‘tracked’ (i.e. How is a given referent referred to throughout a text?)
Novel referents (non-phoric) • Referents not previously mentioned and not recoverable or presumed • Indefinite expressions • Once upon a time, there was a boy. • Descriptions • Full potential of the nominal group
phoricity (recoverability) • “Every time a participant is mentioned, English codes the identity of that participant as explicitly recoverable from the context or not” (Martin, 1992:98) • Phoricity: signals that the information must be recovered in order to identify the participant (referent) • speaker assumes (or believes) the addressee can retrieve the information.
Ways to refer phorically See Martin & Rose (2007) • exophora I ate the apple • anaphora I saw Jane, she looks good • cataphora If you need it, the cap is in the drawer • esphora I took my car to the garage, the door handle was broken • homophora Have you fed the dog?
Additional ways to refer • bridging (indirect) I went to a restaurant. The waitress was from Canada. • Cf. Matsui (1993) • We went to a Thai restaurant. The waitress was from Bangkok. • We stopped for drinks at the New York Hilton before going to the Thai Restaurant. The waitress was from Bangkok. • ellipsis (implied) the man jumped up and Ø started shouting • ambiguous there are distractors, more than one possible referent (e.g. response might be: no not that one, the red one)
Reference Chains • every member of the chain refers to the same referent: There was a nice man in the shop today. He came in with his wife to buy a scarf. There weren’t many people in the store so we ended up talking for a long time. Then the man asked if we could tell him where ... • a nice man he his (we) the man him
Multifunctional nature of referring expressions • “Experiential meaning most clearly defines constituents” (Halliday and Mathiessen, 2004: 328) • Experiential meaning: Determiners, Modifiers, Thing, Qualifiers [Deictic, Numerative, Epithet, Classifier, Thing, Qualifier] • Participant(or Circumstance) Role in the clause • Specificity: specific vs. non-specific • Definiteness/particularization
Multifunctional nature of referring expressions • “Interpersonal meanings tend to be scattered prosodically throughout the unit” (Halliday and Mathiessen, 2004: 328) • Embodied in person system as pronouns (person as Thing, e.g. she, you) and as possessive determiners deictic (e.g. her, your) • Attitude expressed in type of Epithet (e.g. great) • Connotation: meanings of lexical items • Prosody: prosodic features (e.g. swear words)
Multifunctional nature of referring expressions • “Textual meanings tend to be realized by the order in which things occur” (Halliday and Mathiessen, 2004: 328) • Information structure of nominal group (e.g. unmarked focus of information on last word not Thing) • Initial items establishing relevance(determiner system): progression from elements having greatest specifying potential to elements having the least (related to ‘given’) • Cohesion: cohesive ties
Participant / referring expression • participant: “a person, place, or thing, abstract or concrete, capable of functioning as Agent (or Medium) in transitivity” • a referring expression (must have a referent) • the potential to function as a discourse referent (i.e. potential to be maintained)
Participant vs. participant • “all participants are realised through nominal groups but not all nominal groups realise participants” (Martin, 1992:129) • Ngps not realising a participant: • Attributes, e.g. He is a nice man • meteorological it, it’s raining • Some indefinite nominal groups, e.g. he didn’t see anyone • Range/Scope in some cases, e.g. take a bath, have dinner, play tennis.
Task: (use sample table) • Select a text • Identify all referring expressions (RE) used to refer to your chosen referent • Alternatively you might want to compare several referents • For each RE: • State whether presenting or presuming ? • Analyse the experiential, interpersonal, and textual meanings • Determine the type of phoricity used to maintain the referent.
references Halliday, MAK & Hasan, R. (1976) Cohesion in English. London: Longman. Halliday, MAK & Matthiessen, C. (2004) Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Arnold. Martin, J. (1992) English Text. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Martin J.R. & Rose, D. (2007) Working with Discourse: Meaning Beyond the Clause. 2nd ed London: Continuum. Matsui, Tomoko (1993) Bridging reference and notions of 'topic' and 'focus': a relevance-theoretic approach. Lingua 90/1-2, 49-68.