Communicative Organization in Natural Language
The semantic-communicative structure of sentences
Igor Mel’čuk | University of Montreal
The book defines the concept of Semantic-Communicative Structure [= Sem-CommS]-a formal object that is imposed on the starting Semantic Structure [= SemS] of a sentence (under text synthesis) in order to turn the selected meaning into a linguistic message. The Sem-CommS is a system of eight logically independent oppositions: 1. Thematicity (Rheme vs. Theme), 2. Givenness (Given vs. Old), 3. Focalization (Focalized vs. Non-Focalized), 4. Perspective (Foregrounded vs. Backgrounded), 5. Emphasis (Emphasized vs. Non-Emphasized), 6. Presupposedness (Presupposed vs. Non-Presupposed), 7. Unitariness (Unitary vs. Articulated), 8. Locutionality (Communicated vs. Signaled). The values of these oppositions mark particular subnetworks of the starting SemS and thus allow for the distinction between sentences such as (a) A man killed a dog vs. The dog was killed by a man, (b) John washed the window vs. It was John who washed the window or (c) It hurts! vs. Ouch! The proposed Sem-Comm-oppositions are conceived as an attempt at sharpening the well-known notions of Topic ~ Comment, Focus, etc. Possible linguistic strategies for expressing the values of the Sem-Comm-oppositions in different languages are discussed at some length, with linguistic illustrations.
[Studies in Language Companion Series, 57] 2001. xii, 393 pp.
Publishing status: Available
© John Benjamins Publishing Company
Table of Contents
Introduction: Six Basic Questions Answered | p. 1
I. General Characterization of the Semantic-Communicative Structure of Sentences | p. 15
II. Basic Categories of Semantic-Communicative Structure | p. 93
III. Sem-Comm-Oppositions: Linguistic Comments and Illustrations | p. 273
Subject Index | p. 381
Name Index | p. 389
Language Index | p. 391
“Mel'cuk's approach to communicative organization is another important contribution to our thinking about the need for crystal-clear definitions when working with linguistic phenomena and their dimensions of variation. It is rather difficult for a reviewer to find points for negative criticism. To sum up, the book is to be recommended to anyone working in the domain of Information Packaging from any perspective. It will not fail to stimulate both functionalists/typologists and formal linguists to get rid of terminological and notional vagueness when addressing the problem of what is communicated through natural language utterances.”
Andrea Sanso', University of Pavia, Italy in Linguist List Vol-13-1852, 2002
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LAN009000: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General