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Informational articulations in Functional Discourse Grammar

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  1. Informational articulations in Functional Discourse Grammar Kees Hengeveld ACLC -University of Amsterdam

  2. Introduction Functional Discourse Grammar accounts for categories of information structure through the assignment of pragmatic functions to referential and predicational units These pragmatic functions are organized along three parameters: Topic-Comment, Focus-Background, and Contrast-Overlap

  3. Introduction Functions chosen along each of these parameters may be combined These combinations allow for a systematic definition of informational articulations, which characterize the overall information structure of a Discourse Act The variation in the ways language express these informational articulations can be described systematically on the basis of the parameters that define them

  4. Contents 1. Functional Discourse Grammar 2. Pragmatic functions 3. Informational articulations 4. The typology of informational articulations 5. Conclusion

  5. Functional Discourse Grammar

  6. Features • Top-down rather than bottom up grammar • Discourse rather than sentence grammar • Grammatical component connected to conceptual, contextual and output components • Four levels of representation: pragmatic, semantic, morphosyntactic, and phonological

  7. 1. Top-down • Assumption: a model of grammar is more effective the more its organization resembles language processing in the individual • Language production is a top down process, starting with intentions, working down to the articulation of the actual linguistic expression • The grammatical production model reflects this process and is organized in a top-down fashion

  8. 2. Discourse grammar • Many grammatical phenomena can only be interpreted in terms of units larger than individual sentences: narrative constructions, discourse particles, anaphorical chains, tail-head linkage, etc. • Many utterances are non-sentential: holophrases, exclamations, vocatives, etc.

  9. 2. Discourse grammar ... turus jafa cahi saloi ena=ge ... then Jafa carry.on.the.back basket 3.NH=there turus ena=ge paka ine. then 3.NH=there ascend go.upwards Ine una oka koi ... go.upwards 3.SG.M pickbanana '...then Jafa carried the saloi and went upwards. Went upwards he picked the bananas ...‘ Tidore (van Staden 2000: 275)

  10. 2. Discourse grammar Non-sentential utterances: • Holophrases: (What are you eating?) A donut. • Exclamations: Congratulations! • Vocatives Oh John!

  11. 2. Discourse grammar • The basic unit of discourse is not the sentence but the discourse act • Discourse acts combine into moves, which in turn may enter into larger discourse structures • Discourse acts may be manifested in language as sentences, but also as sentence fragments, phrases or words

  12. 3. Conceptual, contextual and output components • Conceptual component is the driving force behind the grammatical component • Contextual component is the discourse domain on the basis of which new utterances are produced in the grammatical component • Output component generates acoustic, signed, or orthographic expressions on the basis of information provided by the grammatical component

  13. 4. Levels of representation Interpersonal level 1. A. Get out of here! B. Don’t talk to me like that! Representational level 2. A. There are lots of traffic lights in this town. B. I didn’t notice that.

  14. 4. Levels of representation Morphosyntactic level 3. A. I had chuletas de cordero last night. B. Is that how you say ‘lamb chops’ in Spanish? Phonological level 4. A. I had /tʃuletɑs#de#kordero/ last night. B. Shouldn’t that be /tʃuletɑs#de#θordero/?

  15. 4. Levels of representation Interpersonal level: pragmatics. Representational level: semantics. Morphosyntactic level: morphosyntax. Phonological level: phonology. All levels are purely linguisticin nature: they describe language in terms of its functions, but only in so far as these functions are encoded in the grammar of a language.

  16. Conceptual Component C on t e x t u a l C o m p o n e n t Frames, Lexemes, Operators Formulation G r a m m a r Pragmatics, Semantics Templates, Grammatical elements Encoding Morphosyntax, Phonology O u t p u t Prosodic Contours, Sounds Articulation Expression Level

  17. Conceptual Component C on t e x t u a l C o m p o n e n t Frames, Lexemes, Operators Formulation G r a m m a r Pragmatics, Semantics Templates, Grammatical elements Encoding Morphosyntax, Phonology O u t p u t Prosodic Contours, Sounds Articulation Expression Level

  18. Levels and Layers • Interpersonal (A1: [(FI: ILL (FI)) (P1)S (P2)A (C1: [(T1) (R1)] (C1))] (A1)) • Representational (p1: (ep1: [(e1: [(f1) (x1)] (e1))] (ep1))(p1)) • Morphosyntactic (Le1: [(Cl1: [(Xw1) (Xp1: [Xw2 (Xp2)] (Xp1))] (Cl1))] (Le1)) • Phonological (U1: [(IP1: [(PP1: [(PW1)] (PP1))] (IP1))n] (U1))

  19. Levels and primitives I like these bananas.

  20. Pragmatic functions

  21. Pragmatic functions Three dimensions: Topic vs Comment Focus vs Background Contrast vs Overlap

  22. Pragmatic functions Marked members: Topic vs Comment Focus vs Background Contrast vs Overlap

  23. Pragmatic functions: Topic Gol-a-ro mæhin ab dad. flower-pl-top Mahin water gave 'Mahin watered the flowers.' Persian, Mahootian 1997: 122

  24. Pragmatic functions: Focus Ndu-nde takhim-gende? sago-foc buy-3pl.prs.final 'They buy sago.' Wambon, de Vries 1985: 172

  25. Pragmatic functions: Contrast Ao po:-lә te tam ja:h-si-u li-zya. this place-in contrwheat put-detr-nml be-cnt 'In this place (as opposed to others) wheat has been sown.' Kham, Watters 2002: 183

  26. Pragmatic functions Domain: Communicated Content at the Interpersonal Level (A1: [(FI: ILL (FI)) (P1)S (P2)A (C1: [(T1)FOC (R1)TOP ] (C1))] (A1))

  27. Pragmatic functions May attach to referential and ascriptive subacts: (C1: [(T1)(R1)TOP] (C1)) (C1: [(T1)TOP (R1)] (C1))

  28. Pragmatic functions: Topic Llov-er no lluev-e. rain-infneg rain-prs.3.sg.ind ‘It doesn’t rain here.’ “Rain it doesn’t rain.” Spanish

  29. Pragmatic functions May attach to referential and ascriptive subacts: (C1: [(T1)(R1)FOC] (C1)) (C1: [(T1)FOC (R1)] (C1))

  30. Pragmatic functions: Focus Se vini Jan mèt vini. foc come Jan may come ‘Jan may come.’ Haitian Creole, Glaude fc.

  31. Pragmatic functions May attach to referential and ascriptive subacts: (C1: [(T1)(R1)CONTR] (C1)) (C1: [(T1)CONTR (R1)] (C1))

  32. Pragmatic functions: Contrast Ma-nɪ-́υ kabiyɛ kɪ ́ nɪ-́υ, 1.sg-understand-impf Kabiye ki understand-inf ma-a yɔɔd-υ kυ 1sg-neg speak-impf it ‘I only understand Kabiye. I don’t speak it.’ Kabiye, Collins & Essizewa 2007: 191 Functional Discourse Grammar

  33. Pragmatic functions Combining pragmatic functions Focus/Contrast Topic/Contrast Focus/Topic Focus/Topic/Contrast etc

  34. Pragmatic functions Combining pragmatic functions Presentatives: (C1: [(R1)FOC/TOP] (C1))

  35. Pragmatic functions: Focus/Topic Hiza=hayza’ ila koSa’en ka SaiSiyat. there=expfv paus nomSaisiyat ‘Once there were Saisiyats.’ Saisiyat (Hsieh & Huang 2006: 100):

  36. Informational articulations

  37. Informational articulations Presentatives show that a Discourse Act may consist of just a Topic and not have a Comment The opposite is also true, in that a Discourse Act may consist of just a Comment and not have a Topic, as in the case of Thetics This means that there is ‘transitivity’ involved in informational articulations

  38. Informational articulations Smit (2010) therefore proposes to introduce Topic and Comment layers within Communicated Contents: (C1: [(Top1) (Cm1)]) ‘Transitive frame’ (C1: [(Top1)]) ‘Intransitive frame’ (C1: [ (Cm1)]) ‘Intransitive frame’

  39. Informational articulations The Topic and Comment layers themselves contain Referential and or Ascriptive Subacts, e.g.: (C1: [(Top1: [(R1)]) (Cm1: [(T1) (R2)])]) ‘The butcher sells veal chops.’

  40. Informational articulations A focus operator can be added to the Topic layer, the Comment layer, a Referential Subact or an Ascriptive Subact. (C1: [(Top1: [(R1)]) (Cm1: [(T1) (R2)])]) ‘The butcher sells veal chops.’

  41. Informational articulations Focus assignment to a Referential Subact or an Ascriptive Subact leads to identificational focus, e.g. (C1: [(Top1: [(R1)]) (Cm1: [(T1) (Foc R2)])]) (What does the butcher sell?) ‘The butcher sells veal chops.’

  42. Informational articulations Focus assignment to the Topic or the Comment layer, combined with the transitive ofrintransitive nature of the frame, leads to four possible combinations:

  43. Informational articulations

  44. Informational articulations

  45. Informational articulations Topic-central Thetic (presentative) (C1: [(Foc Top1)]) Comment-central Thetic (thetic) (C1: [(Foc Cm1)]) Topic-central Categorical (C1: [(Foc Top1) (Cm1)]) Comment-central Categorical (Categorical) (C1: [(Top1) (Foc Cm1)])

  46. Topic-central Thetic (C1: [(Foc Top1)]) Introduction of new topic There is beer without alcohol

  47. Comment-central Thetic (C1: [(Foc Cm1)]) All new discourse act (What happened?) A train arrived.

  48. Comment-central categorical (C1: [(Top1) (Foc Cm1)]) Focal comment about a given topic (What did he do?) He put his house on fire.

  49. Topic-central categorical (C1: [(Foc Top1) (Cm1)]) Introduction of new topic and ensuing comment within the same discourse act (no previous mention of ‘fire’) ... and the fire it burned

  50. Topic-central categorical Often avoided and realized in two discourse acts As for the fire, it burned