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Transitivity in discourse : A comparison of Greek, Polish and Swedish

Lindvall, Ann LU (1998) In Travaux de l'Institut de Linguistique de Lund 37.
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Olika morfologiska former i olika språk antas bero på gemensamma kognitiva funktioner och semantiska egenskaper. En övergripande term för sådana semantiska egenskaper är transitivitet. Transitivitet yttrar sig bl.a. i aspekt hos verbet och bestämdhet hos objektet. En avgörande kognitiv funktion är för- och bakgrundsstruktur av information. Detta testas här empiriskt i (ny-)grekiska, polska och svenska. Efter en översikt av aktuell forskning analyseras språkspecifika former och semantiska egenskaper i mer än 6000 transitiva satser tagna från skönlitterära verk. Satserna är i original i de tre språken och för polska och svenska också i form av översättningar. Sambandet mellan markering av aspekt... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Olika morfologiska former i olika språk antas bero på gemensamma kognitiva funktioner och semantiska egenskaper. En övergripande term för sådana semantiska egenskaper är transitivitet. Transitivitet yttrar sig bl.a. i aspekt hos verbet och bestämdhet hos objektet. En avgörande kognitiv funktion är för- och bakgrundsstruktur av information. Detta testas här empiriskt i (ny-)grekiska, polska och svenska. Efter en översikt av aktuell forskning analyseras språkspecifika former och semantiska egenskaper i mer än 6000 transitiva satser tagna från skönlitterära verk. Satserna är i original i de tre språken och för polska och svenska också i form av översättningar. Sambandet mellan markering av aspekt och bestämdhet testas, både i stort och i form av olika grammatiska kategorier såsom tempus, pronomen o.dyl. Denna morfologiska markering jämförs sedan med semantiska egenskaper som dynamiskhet, avgränsbarhet m.m. Detta ger ett vittomfattande empiriskt stöd för det förmodade sambandet mellan morfologisk form och kognitiva egenskaper. Materialet uppvisar prototypiska kluster av semantiska egenskaper som är typiska för för- och bakgrundsinformation, ibland tvärt emot tidigare hävdade åsikter inom forskningen. Vissa 'blandade' kombinationer förklaras med diskursfaktorer. Vissa egenskaper är systematiskt mer avgörande än andra när det gäller att påverka aspekt- och bestämdhetsmarkering. Slutligen analyseras skillnaderna mellan de tre språken ur en funktionell-typologisk synvinkel. (Less)
Abstract
This work assumes that various linguistic forms in different languages are related to common cognitive functions and semantic properties. A cognitive function - presumably universal - is information transmission. The notion of interest is transitivity, which contains a set of semantic properties such as agentivity, dynamism, affectedness, boundedness and givenness, and the explicit forms are verb aspect and object definiteness. As aspect and definiteness are seen as manifestations of function, their domains are not only verbs and objects but the discourse at large. This is tested in (modern) Greek, Polish and Swedish. Current research is presented on transitivity and on verbal and nominal properties, seen against the background of... (More)
This work assumes that various linguistic forms in different languages are related to common cognitive functions and semantic properties. A cognitive function - presumably universal - is information transmission. The notion of interest is transitivity, which contains a set of semantic properties such as agentivity, dynamism, affectedness, boundedness and givenness, and the explicit forms are verb aspect and object definiteness. As aspect and definiteness are seen as manifestations of function, their domains are not only verbs and objects but the discourse at large. This is tested in (modern) Greek, Polish and Swedish. Current research is presented on transitivity and on verbal and nominal properties, seen against the background of information structure, especially grounding. The connection between semantic properties and language-specific forms is tested in an empirical study of the three languages. Over 6,000 transitive clauses from narrative fiction were analysed. First, the correlation between aspect and definiteness marking was tested, both in general and together with other grammatical categories. This was done intralinguistically for the three languages, for Polish and Swedish also via translations. Second, the semantic properties for each clause were coded and compared with the morphological marking of aspect in Greek and Polish and definiteness in Greek and Swedish. This gives a rich body of quantitative evidence for the assumed connection between form and function. The data display prototypical clusters of transitivity properties characteristic either of foregrounding or back-grounding, sometimes contrary to claims in the literature. Cases of ?mixed1 combinations, e.g. with verb aspect from one prototype and object definiteness from the other, are explained against the background of discourse or information structure. Clauses with conflicting properties are few, but when they appear, some properties are systematically more decisive than others in determining transitivity. Finally, the three languages are analysed on a functional-typological basis. Greek and Polish are compared according to aspect marking and Greek and Swedish according to definiteness marking. The results indicate that the idea of universal cognitive functions behind linguistic forms is a plausible assumption. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
opponent
  • Dr Eklund, Bo-Lennart, Klassiska inst, Göteborgs universitet
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
agentivity, affectedness, aspect, boundedness, cognitive semantics, definiteness, discourse semantics, dynamism, functionalism, givenness, Greek, language typology, lexical semantics, modality, Modern Greek, Polish, transitivity, Swedish, translation, Linguistics, Lingvistik
in
Travaux de l'Institut de Linguistique de Lund
volume
37
pages
222 pages
defense location
Hörsal Eden, Paradisgatan 5, Lund
defense date
1998-04-28 10:15
external identifiers
  • Other:ISRN: LUHSDF/HSLA--98/1012--SE222
ISSN
0347-2558
ISBN
91-7966-516-0
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
dd1e080a-c2de-4c05-9b10-d047f1765d00 (old id 18759)
date added to LUP
2007-05-24 14:02:42
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:45:00
@misc{dd1e080a-c2de-4c05-9b10-d047f1765d00,
  abstract     = {This work assumes that various linguistic forms in different languages are related to common cognitive functions and semantic properties. A cognitive function - presumably universal - is information transmission. The notion of interest is transitivity, which contains a set of semantic properties such as agentivity, dynamism, affectedness, boundedness and givenness, and the explicit forms are verb aspect and object definiteness. As aspect and definiteness are seen as manifestations of function, their domains are not only verbs and objects but the discourse at large. This is tested in (modern) Greek, Polish and Swedish. Current research is presented on transitivity and on verbal and nominal properties, seen against the background of information structure, especially grounding. The connection between semantic properties and language-specific forms is tested in an empirical study of the three languages. Over 6,000 transitive clauses from narrative fiction were analysed. First, the correlation between aspect and definiteness marking was tested, both in general and together with other grammatical categories. This was done intralinguistically for the three languages, for Polish and Swedish also via translations. Second, the semantic properties for each clause were coded and compared with the morphological marking of aspect in Greek and Polish and definiteness in Greek and Swedish. This gives a rich body of quantitative evidence for the assumed connection between form and function. The data display prototypical clusters of transitivity properties characteristic either of foregrounding or back-grounding, sometimes contrary to claims in the literature. Cases of ?mixed1 combinations, e.g. with verb aspect from one prototype and object definiteness from the other, are explained against the background of discourse or information structure. Clauses with conflicting properties are few, but when they appear, some properties are systematically more decisive than others in determining transitivity. Finally, the three languages are analysed on a functional-typological basis. Greek and Polish are compared according to aspect marking and Greek and Swedish according to definiteness marking. The results indicate that the idea of universal cognitive functions behind linguistic forms is a plausible assumption.},
  author       = {Lindvall, Ann},
  isbn         = {91-7966-516-0},
  issn         = {0347-2558},
  keyword      = {agentivity,affectedness,aspect,boundedness,cognitive semantics,definiteness,discourse semantics,dynamism,functionalism,givenness,Greek,language typology,lexical semantics,modality,Modern Greek,Polish,transitivity,Swedish,translation,Linguistics,Lingvistik},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {222},
  series       = {Travaux de l'Institut de Linguistique de Lund},
  title        = {Transitivity in discourse : A comparison of Greek, Polish and Swedish},
  volume       = {37},
  year         = {1998},
}