Extending further and refining Prince’s taxonomy of given/new information: A case study of non-restrictive, relevance-oriented structures

Rudy Loock

Abstract

The aim of this article is to complement and refine Ellen Prince’s well-known taxonomy of given/new information (Prince 1981, 1992), which distinguishes between discourse-related and assumed familiarity-related newness/givenness. What we suggest is that a new category should be added to the existing hearer new, hearer old, and inferrable information categories, so as to include cases where the informational status of an entity or a propositional content cannot be determined with certainty. We call this new category ‘the (hearer) indeterminables’, and we justify its existence through a case study on nonrestrictive, relevance-oriented constructions (appositive relative clauses, non-restrictive pre-modifiers, apposition). We also argue that it is possible for speakers/writers to simulate informational statuses for politeness considerations, and that such simulation should be included in the definition of assumed familiarity.

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