Presentation on theme: "M. A. K. Halliday Notes on transivity and theme in English (4.2 – 4.5) Part 2."— Presentation transcript:
M. A. K. Halliday Notes on transivity and theme in English (4.2 – 4.5) Part 2
4.2 Information Unit John saw a movie last night, and then he went home. Discourse (verbal exchange of ideas) is distributed into information units. One IU is one tone group. Information structure is the result. There is no text without IUs.
4.2 Information Unit Where to put commas? After 1827, the world had to live without Beethoven. – phonological punctuation After 1827 the world had to live without Beethoven. – grammatical punctuation
4.2 Information Unit 1. //John saw the play yesterday// 2. //John//saw the play yesterday// 3. //John//saw the play//yesterday// 1. Unmarked. The clause is one IU. 2. Marked, with the clause as two IUs. 3. Marked, with the clause as three IUs. The average number of IUs per clause lies between one and two.
4.2 Information Unit //John saw the play yesterday// One can enclose a tone group within another one. This procedure is called interpolation.
4.2 Information Unit 1. //Mary//always goes to town on Saturdays// 2. //Mary//always goes to town on Saturdays// Both have two IUs, but the information focus is accommodated at different spots. What goes first – unit or focus? Unit always goes first!
4.3 Information Focus //John//saw the play yesterday// //: two IUs = two tone groups
4.3 Information Focus //John//saw the play yesterday// Information focus on John, play, and yesterday The first tone group has a simple tonic segment (John). The second tone group has a compound tonic segment, that is, it has two tonic segments (play, yesterday).
4.3 Information Focus //John//saw the play yesterday// Two tonic segments (play, yesterday): primary focus on play, secondary focus on yesterday //John//saw the/play/yesterday// / indicates the foot boundary. Each component within the tonic segment consists of at least one foot (foot: the basic unit of verse metre).
4.3 Information Focus //John//saw the/play/yesterday// Bold type indicates the tonic syllable, which is the initial syllable in the tonic component. The tonic syllable is phonologically prominent. This is a matter of pitch movement.
4.3 Information Focus //John//saw the/play/yesterday// What is saw the? It precedes the tonic segment and is thus called pretonic segment. It does not have information focus.
4.3 Information Focus Focal information is important, stressed, and new. What is not new (like saw the) is given. //John//saw the/play/yesterday// Rule: In many English sentences, the stress falls on the last accented syllable. Thus, each tone group has a new element, realized as tonic, and a given element, realized as pretonic.
4.3 Information Focus However, the new element can occur at the beginning of a sentence. All the/GCE/papers have to be/marked out of/two/hundred. All is new. It is non-derivable information.
4.4 Given and New What items can carry information focus? Reference (e.g., this) and other closed system items (e.g., verbal auxiliaries or prepositions) will not carry information focus even when final in the IU, unless they carry contrastive information. //John saw the play yesterday// - not today //It lies on the table// - not under
4.4 Given and New Rule: The tonic falls on the (accented syllable of the) final lexical item in the tone group. Closed system items occur as the realization of grammatical features. This rule is still not complete. The tonic may fall anywhere within the tone group. What it specifies is unmarked information focus.
4.4 Given and New 1. //John painted the shed yesterday// - Who painted the shed yesterday? 2. //John painted the shed yesterday// - What did John do to the shed yesterday? 3. //John painted the shed yesterday// - When did John paint the shed? 4. //John painted the shed yesterday// Examples 1, 2 and 3 are marked in information focus, whereas ex. 4 is unmarked in information focus. 4 does not trigger a specific question!
4.4 Given and New Rule: The tonic falls on the (accented syllable of the) final lexical item in the tone group as long as unmarked information focus occurs. Closed system items that follow are the realization of grammatical features and are thus automatically unstressed. If marked information focus occurs before the last lexical item, the latter is also post- tonic and behaves as if belonging to the closed system.
4.5 Some Particular Cases Defining and non-defining relative clauses can be the result of a different distribution into information units. 1. //his brother the heart surgeon// The heart surgeon is defining. 2. //his brother//the heart surgeon// The two nominals are in apposition – a non- defining example. Here, information structure determines sentence structure.
4.5 Some Particular Cases The IU frequently defines the domain of constituents whose status in sentence structure does not fully specify a domain for them. Exaggerated: Those words need the help of IUs to become strong.
4.5 Some Particular Cases Clause-initial adjuncts: //For some reason hes//gone away and he hasnt left an address// He hasnt left an address is part of what is unexplained: It is within the domain of for some reason
4.5 Some Particular Cases //For some reason hes//gone away and he hasnt left an address// Only hes gone away is within the domain of for some reason.
4.5 Some Particular Cases Non-initial items such as only, either or too are defined in the same way: //Yorkshire gained twelve points and won the championship//too// The domain of too is the whole of the preceding IU – There must have been an utterance before. //Yorkshire gained twelve points//and won the championship//too// Too relates won the championship to gained twelve points. There is no previous utterance.
4.5 Some Particular Cases If one stresses the WH-element in a question (instead of the final lexical item), it means that one has forgotten the answer, even though the question has been asked before. //What was the name of the speaker// The question element is marked as contrastively new.
4.5 Some Particular Cases Contrast in verbal groups: //He took it// - unmarked positive //He did take it// - marked positive //He did take it// - contrastive positive
Net Result A piece of discourse consists of a linear succession of message blocks, the information units, realized by tonality. Each information unit is the point of origin for the choice of information focus, by which one element is selected as focal. In the unmarked case the new is, or includes, the final lexical item, but the focus can appear at any point in the information unit. New information is non-derivable, whereas given information is recoverable anaphorically or situationally. The information structure provides the framework within which all of these choices are exercised.