Narrative Storyline Marking In Safaliba: Determining The Meaning And Discourse Function Of A Typologically-suspect Pronoun Set

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Title: Narrative Storyline Marking In Safaliba: Determining The Meaning And Discourse Function Of A Typologically-suspect Pronoun Set
Author: Schaefer, Paul Alan
Abstract: This study examines the meaning and discourse functions of a typologically unusual set of pronouns (the "N -pronoun" set ) in Safaliba , a little -studied Gur language of western Ghana . The phonological structure of the N -pronouns suggests derivation from the regular pronoun form joined to a subject focus marker , rendering suspect the hypothesis that the N -pronoun exists as an independent form . In isolated sentences , substitution of N -pronouns for those of the regular set produces no immediately obvious difference in meaning , suggesting a discourse or pragmatic function .Three main areas of investigation are pursued : the grammatical contexts where the N -pronouns can and cannot occur ; the function and distribution of the hypothetically -related marked focus constructions ; and the narrative discourse conventions of Safaliba , particularly the participant reference patterns . The main data source for the research consists of an electronic corpus of approximately 20 ,000 words comprising 39 narrative texts in Safaliba , supplemented with elicited words and sentences .Grammatical background is presented first , illustrating those aspects of phonology and syntax which have a bearing on the research questions , as well as documenting these areas of the language for future reference . Marked focus constructions are presented next , analyzed following Dik (1997a ) ; these are compared with the usage and distribution of the N -pronoun set , in both elicited and corpus -based examples . Finally , the narrative structure and participant reference patterns are analyzed following Longacre (1995 , 1996 ) and are discovered to be the key to understanding the core meaning and discourse functions of the N -pronoun in narrative text .A unique appropriateness to the narrative storyline , possibly because of higher agentive status , is proposed as the main difference between the N -pronoun set and the regular pronoun set , so that the primary function of the N -pronoun is to distinguish storyline from background information . The pragmatic category of focus is shown to be unrelated synchronically to the meaning or functions of the N -pronoun . This study illustrates the flexibility and advantages of a corpus -based approach to language research . It also shows that the effects of text structure on sentence form can be an unconsidered variable in the study of pragmatic functions in naturally -occurring text data .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /10106 /1669
Date: 2009-09-16

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Narrative Storyline Marking In Safaliba: Determining The Meaning And Discourse Function Of A Typologically-suspect Pronoun Set. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /10106 /1669 .

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