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Department of English University of Santiago de Compostela April 2009

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1 Department of English University of Santiago de Compostela April 2009
Complex Syntax in Narrative Texts: Cross-Linguistic Comparisons Ruth A. Berman – Tel Aviv University with Bracha Nir – University of Haifa Department of English University of Santiago de Compostela April 2009

2 Complex Syntax “Nexus” (Jespersen, 1924; Van Valin & LaPolla, 1997)
“Clause-linkage” (Haiman & Thompson, 1988) “Clause complexes” (Matthiessen, 2002) “Complex sentences” (Bybee & Noonan, 2001; Lyons, 1968) Jespersen (1924) – “A nexus…always contains two ideas which must necessarily remain separate…whereas the junction is more stiff or rigid, the nexus is more pliable; it is, as it were, animate or articulated.” (The Philosophy of Grammar, p. 116) Van Valin & LaPolla (1997) – relationships: Independent (coordination), dependent (cosubordination, subordination)

3 Perspectives on Complex Syntax
Formal generative grammar – hierarchical, structure-dependent nature of syntax, formal principles of UG like recursion (Chomsky, 1957; Lidz, 2007; Lust et al, 2008) Language typology - different types of structures that encode the same functional domains (Croft, 1990; Givón, 1984, 2009; Lehmann, 1978; Van Valin, 1984) Language processing and comprehension - integrated syntactic structures involve lower processing costs (Gibson, 1998; Grodner, Gibson, & Watson, 2005) Acquisition research - use of connectives as expressing knowledge of complex syntax (Akinci & Jisa, 2000; Berman, 1996; Jisa, 1987; Peterson & McCabe,1991 – Diessel 2004) Cognitive linguistics - complex sentences as grammatical constructions (Bybee, 2001; Croft, 2001) Discourse studies - clause linkage plays a role in the organization of discourse (Chafe, 1994; Haiman & Thompson, 1988; Halliday, 1994; Thompson, 1985)

4 WHY COMPLEX SYNTAX? First three pictures in Mercer Mayer “Frog, Where are You?” (Berman & Slobin, 1994)

5 ) Opening segments to “Frog Story” Picturebook (Sebastián & Slobin, 1994)
Oral frog story, age 4;6 El perro iba a meter la rana dentro de acquí // Y era de noche // Y luego cuando era de noche ] se metió en la cama ]] Y entonces cuando era todavía de noche … // Y se levantó la rana // y se fue // Y acquí iba mirar el niño // Y era de día // Y entonces no estaba la rana // se escapó // Y acquí otro día … // [42 words, 11 utterances, 2 clauses packaged] Oral frog story, adult Era de noche ] y Pepito y su perro estaban mirando la rana ] que habían casado por la mañana en una charca muy grande ]] Les gustaba mucho la ranita ], pero cuando se acostaron ] para dormir ] la rana empezó a salir del frasco ] donde se había metido Petito ]] Y por la mañana cuando se despertaron Pepito y su perro ] encontraron ] que la rana había desaparecido ]] [62 words, 11 clauses, 3 packages]

6 Development in Clause Packaging (Berman & Nir-Sagiv, 2009)

7 Complex Syntax in Text-Embedded Contexts
Problematic notion of “paragraph” (Heurley, 1997; Hwang, 1989; Stark, 1988) Problematic notion of “sentence” (Halliday, 1985; Shopen, 1985) > Syntactic “Clause Packaging” (Berman & Nir-Sagiv, 2009; Berman & Slobin, 1994; Longacre, 1996) Definition of clause: “any unit that contains a unified predicate … expressing a single situation -- activity, event, or state” (Berman & Slobin, 1994: 660)

8 MOTIVATIONS FOR PRESENT STUDY
Slobin’s (2003) “Contrastive Rhetoric” “Syntactic packaging” (Berman & Slobin, 1994),“connectivity” (Berman, 1998) “Clause packaging” -- visual metaphor: how situations into components, encoded in multi-clausal constructions” “Rhetorical effects” – subordinating event components, conflating phases of events, control over rhythm and tempo

9 Contrastive Rhetoric Traditional “Rhetoric” - effective use of language (Fix, Gardt, & Knape, 2006) Discourse rhetoric and complex syntax: Rhetorical Structure Theory [RST] (Mann & Thompson, 1988) Segmented Discourse Representation Theory [SDRT] (Asher, 1993; Asher & Lascarides, 2003) Contrastive Rhetoric: 2nd Language Studies (Bar-Lev, 1986; Connor, 2002; Kaplan, 1966; Ostler, 1987) 1st Language Development (Gayraud, Jisa, & Viguié, 2001; Tolchinsky & Rosado, 2005): which expressive options are favored for particular discourse purposes – e.g., event conflation, agent downgrading

10 Facets of Contrastive Rhetoric
Expressive options Rhetorical preferences Rhetorical strategies Rhetorical style Rhetorical purpose

11 Present Analysis Syntactic architecture:
syntactic construction type of the individual clause its relation to surrounding clauses Strategies of clause combining Preferred narrative (rhetorical) style Cross-linguistic comparisons

12 G = Grade school children aged 9 to 10 years
CROSSLINGUISTIC PROJECT ON TEXT CONSTRUCTION ABILITIES IN LATER LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT G = Grade school children aged 9 to 10 years J = Junior high students aged 12 to 13 years H = High school students aged 16 to 17 years A = University graduate-level students in 20s-30s Topic: “Problems between People” Genre/Modality: Written/spoken Expository Discussion Written/spoken Personal Experience Narrative Languages: Californian English, Dutch, French, Hebrew, Iberian Spanish, Icelandic, Swedish [Berman, 2005; 2008; Berman & Nir-Sagiv, 2004, 2007; Berman & Verhoeven, 2002]

13 Syntactic Architecture in Clause Packaging: Categories of Analysis
Isotaxis [I] = ‘equal organization’: isolated clauses Symmetric Parataxis [P]= ‘side by side organization’: stringing of clauses Asymmetric Parataxis [AsP]= dependent stringing Hypotaxis [H] = ‘one under the other’: layering of clauses Endotaxis [E] = ‘one inside the other’: nesting of clauses (Akinci et Jisa, 2001; Koch, 1995; Lehmann, 1988; Vigué 2001)

14 Syntactic Architecture in Clause Packaging: Categories of Analysis
Isotaxis [I] = isolated clauses Symmetric Parataxis [P]= stringing of clauses Asymmetric Parataxis [AsP]= dependent stringing Hypotaxis [H] = layering of clauses Endotaxis [E] = nesting of clauses (Akinci et Jisa, 2001; Koch 1995; Lehmann, 1988; Vigué 2001) clause1 clausen co

15 Syntactic Architecture in Clause Packaging: Categories of Analysis
Isolaxis [I] = isolating:  (a) lone clauses, not linked to others in the same CP [MC-I] (b) main clauses [MC] Parataxis [P]= stringing: (a) juxtaposed clauses, asyndetic, linked by juxtaposition [MCJ-P] (b) coordinate clauses, listed or marked by conjunction, with surface subject [CO-P] Asymmetric Parataxis [AsP] = dependent stringing: (a) coordinate clauses with subject ellipsis [CO-AsP] (b) complement clauses, indirect questions [CMP-AsP], [CMPQ-AsP] Hypotaxis [H] = layering of clauses (a) dependent relative clauses [RC-H] (b) dependent adverbial clauses [ADV-H] Endotaxis [E] = nesting of clauses (a) center-embedded adverbial and relative clauses [RC-E], [ADV-E] (b) parenthetical constructions [PAR-E]

16 Excerpt from Personal Experience Narrative Written in Spanish [Sa15fnw]
CP1 En lo <que se refiere a historias o experiencias> [RC-E] <que yo he vivido> [RC-E] y <que reflejan situaciones reflejadas en el vídeo > [RC-E] tengo muy variadas [MC] pero no sólo del ambiente educativo [CO-P], sino también experiencias del ambiente social [CO-P] que no he vivido directamente [RC-H] pero que han sido evidentes [RC-H]. ‘As for <what relates to stories or situations> <that I have experienced> and <that reflect situations shown on the video>, I have many different ones, but not only in the educational domain, but also experiences in the social domain that I have not lived directly (myself) but that have been clear (to see)’. CP2 La primera experiencia <que recuerdo con ella> [RC-E] es un tipo de discriminación intelectual [MC]. Me refiero [MCJ-P] a que el profesor nos etiquetaba a los alumnos por inteligentes o más torpes [NCMP-H] y lo demostraba [NCMP-H] resaltando [ADV-H] y valorando siempre a aquellos alumnos [ADV-H] que acababan pronto sus actividades [RC-H] y realizaban buenos exámenes [RC-H] y por el contrario desprestigiaba a los [NCMP-H] que tenían dificultad [RC-H] para resolver ciertos problemas de aprendizaje [NCOMP-H]. ‘The first experience <that I remember with her> is a kind of intellectual discrimination. I refer to it [=the fact] that the teacher would label us as smart or as clumsy, and (he) proved this (by) always highlighting and praising those students that completed their assignments quickly and (that) did well on tests, and on the other hand, he would deprecate those that had difficulty with solving certain learning problems’.

17 Personal Experience Narrative Written in French [Fa17fnw]
CP1 J’ai eu un conflit avec une personne dans le milieu professionnel [MC-I]. CP2 Je travaille dans un service export [MC] où la flexibilité entre les personnes est indispensable [RC-H]. CP3 Nous devons nous remplacer lors des absences des uns et des autres [MC-I]. CP4 Une de mes collègues est partie une semaine en vacances [MC]. J' ai dû la remplacer [MCJ-P] alors que son poste et le mien étaient très chargés [ADV-H]. CP5 Sur le poste de ma collègue j' ai eu un problème informatique [MC] qu'il était urgent de résoudre [RC-H] pour pouvoir travailler [ADV-H] Cet incident est arrivé à un mauvais moment [MCJ-I] puisque j'étais débordée [ADV-H]. CP6 J’ai donc contacté la personne au service informatique [MC] qui était susceptible de m' aider [RC-H]. CP7 Malheureusement cette dernière était elle aussi surchargée de travail [MC] | et également très énervée [CO-P]. Elle a donc refusé de m'aider [MCJ-P] et m'a par contre répétée pendant dix minutes [CO-P] qu'elle était surchargée de travail [CMP-AsP]. CP8 Le fait <qu'elle perde dix minutes à me raconter ses malheurs> [NCMP-E] m'a davantage énervée [MC]. CP9 Nous en sommes arrivées à une situation conflictuelles [MC] qui a duré dix minutes [RC-H] avant que nous parvenions à un accord [ADV-H].

18 Personal Experience Narrative Written in Hebrew [Ha13mnw]
CP1 mikre še-kara li im amit la-avoda [MC-I] ‘(An) incident that-happened to-me with (a) colleague at-work’ CP2 le-orex kol ha-tkufa <še-ani oved ito> [RC-E], ani margish kin'a <ve-eyn al ma lekane> [PAR-E] ve-ayin cara [MC], omnam loh rak klapay [CO-GAP-P] gam klapey axerim [CO-GAP-P] ‘Throughout the entire period, that-I work with-him, I feel envy <and-(there’s) nothing to be-envious of> and-malice, although not only towards-me, towards others as well’. CP3 yom exad ha-menahel loh higia [MC] ve-hayiti amur lehaxlif oto [CO-P] ve-la'asot et avodato shel ha-menahel [CO-P] heyot ve-gam ani yodea ota [ADV-H] ‘One day the-boss(did) not arrive, and-(I)-was-supposed to-replace him and-to-do the boss’s job, since I also know it’. CP4 hu ka'as meod al~kax [MC] še-ha-menahel loh higia [NCMP-H] ‘He was-furious about (it) that-the-boss (had) not arrived’. CP5 ax hu sovev et ha-inyan [MC] ve-ta'an [CO-P] še-ha-siba le-kax <še-ha-menahel hodia al i bo'o la-avoda> [NCMP-E] neuca bi [CMP-AsP] mishum še-hirgalti et ha-menahel [ADV-H] še-yesh lo maxlif dehaynu ani [CMP-AsP] ‘However, he twisted the matter around, and claimed that-the-reason for it <that-the boss announced his non-arrival at-work> (is)-occasioned by-me as I-(had) accustomed the-boss (to the fact that) he has a substitute, namely me’. CP6 hu higdil [MC] ve-amar [CO-P] še-ani loh ose klum [CMP-AsP] ve-ani nehene lashevet ve-la'asot et avodato shel ha-menahel [CMP-AsP] ‘He went-far and said [=went so far as to say] that I do nothing and-I enjoy sitting and-doing the boss’s work’. CP7 ze hixis oti meod [MC-I] ‘It annoyed me very-much’. CP8 hayu xilufey dvarim kashim, tonim gvohim [MC-I] ‘(There) were harsh exchanges, loud tones (of voice)’. CP9 ve-levasof hixlateti [MC] še-eyn yoter cxokim ito [CMP-AsP] ve-yaxasay imo yiyu inyaniyim bilvad [CMP-AsP] ve-kax yitav li [CMP-AsP] ‘And-eventually (I) decided that-(there’s) no more fun with-him, and-my-relations with-him will-be strictly business-like, and-thus I’ll benefit’.

19 Personal Experience Narrative Written in English [Ea11fnw]
CP1 As I stated just moments prior in an interview [ADV-H], a story about a conflict <that arose in my own life> [RC-E] occurred recently [MC]. CP2 Within my research laboratory there are certain times [MC] within which stress is much more tangible than other times, for example [RC-H] when one is under the time pressure of a grant submission deadline [ADV-H]. CP3 It was during one of those crunch times [MC] that it became readily apparent [NCMP-H] that our research staff was under a great deal of stress [CMP-AsP]. CP4 Concomitantly, groups of people began to snap at each other [MC-I], show labile mood [CO-P], and / or have certain tones in conversation [CO-P] that were found [RC-H] to be condescending by others [CMP-AsP]. CP5 In one instance, this type of scenario occurred between me and a colleague [MC-I]. CP6 When alone in my office [ADV-H], we both exchanged less than optimal tones with each other [MC] and the conflict or tension was all too evident [CO-P].   CP7 We decided [MC] that we should close the door [CMP-AsP] and discuss what [CMP-AsP] was going on [RC-H]. CP8 Although it was difficult [ADV-H] and I felt vulnerable [ADV-H], it was helpful [MC] to talk things through [CMP-AsP] and resolve the situation [CMP-AsP]. CP9 Our resolution was [MC] to warn each other [CMP-AsP] when feeling stressed out or tired [ADV-H] and to assert the fact [CMP-AsP] that this had nothing [NCMP-H] to do with the other individual personally [RC-H], but all to do with the stressful environment [NCMP-H] within which we worked [RC-H]. CP10 Since then our interactions have been much better [MC] and during stressful periods we are clearer about what [CO-P] is going on [RC-H] without snapping at each other [ADV-H] or allowing the pressure [ADV-H] to manifest in other hurtful ways [CMP-AsP].

20 Mean Number of Clauses per Clause Package by Language [N=74]
Clauses per CP 1 2 3 4 5 6 French Hebrew English Spanish

21 Preferred Strategies of Clause Packaging
English Spanish Hebrew French French: Isotaxis and Nonfinites English: Parataxis (specifically – asymmetric parataxis = complement clauses) and Nonfinites Hebrew: Isotaxis Spanish: Endotaxis and Stacking Endotaxis Hypotaxis Asymmetric Parataxis Symmetric Parataxis Isotaxis Reliability of analyses with: French: Harriet Jisa, PR2, Université Lumière Lyon Spanish: Judy Kupersmitt, Tel Aviv University, Melina Aparici, University of Barcelona Hebrew: Irit Katzenberger, Tel Aviv University English: Judy Reilly, San Diego State University

22 Summary of Study Data base: genre-specific, authentic language use
Trends consistent with: Developmental findings (Berman & Nir-Sagiv, 2009) Other languages (Verhoeven et al, 2002; Viguié, 2001) Cross-linguistic typology / cross-cultural comparisons (Connor et al, 2008) Typological options / Rhetorical preferences (Berman, in press; Jisa et al, 2002; Tolchinsky & Rosado, 2005)

23 Language-specific Rhetorical Style
Major devices shared -- differently deployed and distributed Explanations in terms of rhetorical style and purpose (Johnstone, 1996; Klein & von Stutterheim, 1991) Native sensitivity to “spirit of the language” Alternative expressive options, e.g., for Agency Downgrading: 2nd person pronoun used generically ~ Passive Voice: Dutch > English > French > Hebrew > Spanish (Jisa et al, 2002) Icelandic > Swedish (Ragnasdóttir & Strömqvist, 2005) French and Swedish: dedicated generic pronoun English: Passives, generic subject (pro)nouns Spanish and Hebrew: subjectless impersonals

24 Text-embedded, usage-based realization of:
Rhetorical Typology Text-embedded, usage-based realization of: Structural options in interaction with Stylistic preferences and Communicative setting (text-type)


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