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LINGUIST List 18.2782

Tue Sep 25 2007

Diss: Discourse Analysis: Hilmisdottir: 'A Sequential Analysis of...'

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        1.    Helga Hilmisdottir, A Sequential Analysis of 'nú' and 'núna' in Icelandic Conversation

Message 1: A Sequential Analysis of 'nú' and 'núna' in Icelandic Conversation
Date: 22-Sep-2007
From: Helga Hilmisdottir <hilmisdocc.umanitoba.ca>
Subject: A Sequential Analysis of 'nú' and 'núna' in Icelandic Conversation
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Institution: University of Helsinki
Program: Department of Scandinavian Languages and Literature
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007

Author: Helga Hilmisdottir

Dissertation Title: A Sequential Analysis of 'nú' and 'núna' in Icelandic Conversation

Dissertation URL: https://oa.doria.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/7242/asequent.pdf?sequence=1

Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis

Subject Language(s): Icelandic (isl)

Dissertation Director:
Anne-Marie Londen
Mirja Saari
Camilla Wide

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis is an empirical study of how two words in Icelandic, 'nú' and
'núna', are used in contemporary Icelandic conversation. My aims in this
study are, first, to explain the differences between the temporal functions
of 'nú' and 'núna', and, second, to describe the non-temporal functions of
'nú'. In the analysis, a focus is placed on comparing the sequential
placement of the two words, on their syntactical distribution, and on their
prosodic realization.

The empirical data comprise 14 hours and 11 minutes of naturally occurring
conversation recorded between 1996 and 2003. The selected conversations
represent a wide range of interactional contexts including informal dinner
parties, institutional and non-institutional telephone conversations, radio
programs for teenagers, phone-in programs, and, finally, a political debate
on television. The theoretical and methodological framework is
interactional linguistics, which can be described as linguistically
oriented conversation analysis (CA).

A comparison of 'nú' and 'núna' shows that the two words have different
syntactic distributions. 'Nú' has a clear tendency to occur in the front
field, before the finite verb, while 'núna' typically occurs in the end
field, after the object. It is argued that this syntactic difference
reflects a functional difference between 'nú' and 'núna'. A sequential
analysis of 'núna' shows that the word refers to an unspecified period of
time which includes the utterance time as well as some time in the past and
in the future. This temporal relation is referred to as reference time.
'Nú', on the other hand, is mainly used in three different environments: a)
in temporal comparisons, 2) in transitions, and 3) when the speaker is
taking an affective stance.

The non-temporal functions of 'nú' are divided into three categories: a)
'nú' as a tone particle, 2) 'nú' as an utterance particle, and 3) 'nú' as a
dialogue particle. 'Nú' as a tone particle is syntactically integrated and
can occur in two syntactic positions: pre-verbally and post-verbally. I
argue that these instances are employed in utterances in which a speaker is
foregrounding information or marking it as particularly important. The
study shows that, although these instances are typically prosodically
non-prominent and unstressed, they are in some cases delivered with stress
and with a higher pitch than the surrounding talk. 'Nú' as an utterance
particle occurs turn-initially and is syntactically non-integrated. By
using nú, speakers show continuity between turns and link new turns to
prior ones. These instances initiate either continuations by the same
speaker or new turns after speaker shifts. 'Nú' as a dialogue particle
occurs as a turn of its own. The study shows that these instances register
informings in prior turns as unexpected or as a departure from the normal
state of affairs. 'Nú' as a dialogue particle is often delivered with a
prolonged vowel and a recognizable intonation contour. A comparative
sequential and prosodic analysis shows that in these cases there is a
correlation between the function of 'nú' and the intonation contour by
which it is delivered.

Finally, I argue that despite the many functions of 'nú', all the instances
can be said to have a common denominator, which is to display attention
towards the present moment and the utterances which are produced prior or
after the production of 'nú'. Instead of anchoring the utterances in
external time or reference time, these instances position the utterance in
discourse internal time, or discourse time.

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