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LINGUIST List 16.3471

Tue Dec 06 2005

Diss: Text/Corpus Linguistics: Ballantyne: 'Textual...'

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        1.    Keira Ballantyne, Textual Structure and Discourse Prominence in Yapese Narrative

Message 1: Textual Structure and Discourse Prominence in Yapese Narrative
Date: 02-Dec-2005
From: Keira Ballantyne <ballantyhawaii.edu>
Subject: Textual Structure and Discourse Prominence in Yapese Narrative

Institution: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2005

Author: Keira Gebbie Ballantyne

Dissertation Title: Textual Structure and Discourse Prominence in Yapese Narrative

Dissertation URL: http://www2.hawaii.edu/~ballanty/dissertation/diss.html

Linguistic Field(s): Text/Corpus Linguistics

Subject Language(s): Yapese (yap)

Dissertation Director:
Benjamin K Bergen

Dissertation Abstract:

This work shows that morphosyntactic variation in the form of
tense-mood-aspect (TMA) and referring expressions in Yapese narrative act
in concert to give rise to an enhancement in the imagined storyworld at
high points of narrative action.

Drawing on accessibility theory, typological work in the textlinguistic
tradition, and a perceptually grounded version of the situation model
framework, the dissertation argues that representations of the most highly
salient entities and clauses in narrative tend to exploit semantic
resources which work to create a rich simulacra of perceptual experience.

The work takes the form of a case study, examining a corpus of narrative
and non-narrative text in Yapese, a language of Micronesia. It is found
that a foregrounding distinction conditions the split between independent
pronoun TMA markers and clitic pronoun TMA markers. Highly foregrounded
clauses in Yapese narrative may be zero-marked, they may take the inceptive
nga, or they may be in the perfect non-present ka qu. Nga invokes a
semantics of goal-satisfaction or effect, event types which have been shown
to enhance the processing of connected clauses in laboratory studies. Ka qu
is an instance of frame-breaking pragmatic reversal.

The Yapese system of reference is analyzed with respect to cognitive
status. Particular attention is paid to the pronoun, determiner, and
deictic systems. Yapese has a definite and two indefinite articles, and
contrasts speaker proximal, hearer proximal, and distal demonstratives. It
is argued that the higher the minimal cognitive status required for a
referring expression, the more elaborate and constrained the representation
of the referent. Highly elaborate and constrained representations have
properties in common with highly salient objects in perception. The high
accessibility of hearer proximal demonstratives is analyzed as a
combination of spatial and social distance effects.

Highly elaborated subjects tend to correlate with highly foregrounded
clauses. Variation in both the TMA and reference systems is manipulated by
narrators to more deeply immerse the audience in the narrative at key points.

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