Article published in:Linguistics and Literary History: In honour of Sylvia Adamson
Edited by Anita Auer, Victorina González-Díaz, Jane Hodson and Violeta Sotirova
[Linguistic Approaches to Literature 25] 2016
► pp. 129–150
Chapter 7. “Worth a moment’s notice”
Jane Austen and conversational parentheticals
This paper explores the competition between round brackets and other punctuation marks as delimiters of kinesic parentheticals in Austen’s dialogue (e.g. said Harriet, in a mortified voice). Drawing mainly on an analysis of Emma, the investigation suggests that, linguistically, round brackets in Austen are preferred over other punctuation marks in cases where the kinesic parenthetical is not introduced by a reporting clause and takes the form of an -ing clause (e.g. laughing affectedly). Stylistically, the data show that kinesic parentheticals are amenable to an interpretation along Mahlberg’s (2007) distinction between ‘contextualising’ and ‘highlighting’ textual functions; the ‘highlighting’ functions being more prominent when the kinesic information is introduced by round brackets. More generally, the paper provides an example of how punctuation can contribute to textual structuring. Jane Austen is known to have disliked parenthetical attributions of speech (Toner 2012). In this connection, the paper tentatively suggests that the use of rounds brackets as kinesic parenthetical markers in her work may partly be the result of Austen’s stylistic experimentation with ways of avoiding attribution of speech markers and helping the reader to identify secondary (female) characters.
Published online: 20 October 2016
DeForest, M. & Johnson, E.
Mahlberg, M. & Smith, C.
Stovel, B. & Weinlos-Gregg, L.
2007 ‘I am rather a talker’: Speech and silence. Persuasions. The Jane Austen Journal On-line 28(1). http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol28no1/toc.html
Cited by 1 other publications
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