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Participant Tracking - workshop Lise Fontaine Cardiff University LinC Summer School and Workshop 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "Participant Tracking - workshop Lise Fontaine Cardiff University LinC Summer School and Workshop 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 Participant Tracking - workshop Lise Fontaine Cardiff University LinC Summer School and Workshop 2010

2 outline Notion of Participant Referring vs non-referring Identification Tracking Multifunctional nature of referring expressions

3 participant A participant is a person, place, or thing, abstract or concrete, capable of functioning as Agent (or Medium) in transitivity. Martin, 1992:129 John the friend Mary 3 participants e.g. Johns friend who Mary had never met

4 identification and tracking Participant Identification refers to the strategies language use to get people, places and things into a text and refer to them once there. Martin, 1992 I saw John last night and I met his friend. He seems like a nice guy.

5 Referring – nominal groups - coreferentiality It doesnt have to exist to be referring Unicorns are real. Negation doesnt mean the expression isnt referring *I dont have a car, it isnt red. I didnt see John, he wasnt there. cf. anyone (Martin, 1992:106) Did you find anyone? Yes, theyre waiting outside I didnt find anyone. *Bring them in No, they must have left. Indefinite descriptions I saw a man this morning or Rockets are dangerous

6 Identifying and tracking (maintaining) a referent How are participants introduced? How are they tracked (i.e. How is a given referent referred to throughout a text?)

7 Novel referents (non-phoric) Referents not previously mentioned and not recoverable or presumed Indefinite expressions Once upon a time, there was a boy. Descriptions Full potential of the nominal group

8 phoricity (recoverability) Every time a participant is mentioned, English codes the identity of that participant as explicitly recoverable from the context or not (Martin, 1992:98) Phoricity: signals that the information must be recovered in order to identify the participant (referent) speaker assumes (or believes) the addressee can retrieve the information.

9 Ways to refer phorically exophora I ate the apple anaphora I saw Jane, she looks good cataphora If you need it, the cap is in the drawer esphora I took my car to the garage, the door handle was broken homophora Have you fed the dog? See Martin & Rose (2007)

10 Additional ways to refer bridging (indirect) I went to a restaurant. The waitress was from Canada. Cf. Matsui (1993) We went to a Thai restaurant. The waitress was from Bangkok. We stopped for drinks at the New York Hilton before going to the Thai Restaurant. The waitress was from Bangkok. ellipsis (implied) the man jumped up and Ø started shouting ambiguous there are distractors, more than one possible referent (e.g. response might be: no not that one, the red one)

11 Reference Chains every member of the chain refers to the same referent: There was a nice man in the shop today. He came in with his wife to buy a scarf. There werent many people in the store so we ended up talking for a long time. Then the man asked if we could tell him where... a nice man he his (we) the man him

12 Multifunctional nature of referring expressions Experiential meaning most clearly defines constituents (Halliday and Mathiessen, 2004: 328) E XPERIENTIAL MEANING : Determiners, Modifiers, Thing, Qualifiers [Deictic, Numerative, Epithet, Classifier, Thing, Qualifier] P ARTICIPANT (or Circumstance) Role in the clause S PECIFICITY : specific vs. non-specific Definiteness/particularization

13 Multifunctional nature of referring expressions Interpersonal meanings tend to be scattered prosodically throughout the unit (Halliday and Mathiessen, 2004: 328) Embodied in PERSON SYSTEM as pronouns (person as Thing, e.g. she, you) and as possessive determiners deictic (e.g. her, your) A TTITUDE expressed in type of Epithet (e.g. great) C ONNOTATION : meanings of lexical items P ROSODY : prosodic features (e.g. swear words)

14 Multifunctional nature of referring expressions Textual meanings tend to be realized by the order in which things occur (Halliday and Mathiessen, 2004: 328) I NFORMATION STRUCTURE of nominal group (e.g. unmarked focus of information on last word not Thing) Initial items establishing RELEVANCE (determiner system) : progression from elements having greatest specifying potential to elements having the least (related to given) C OHESION : cohesive ties

15 P ARTICIPANT / REFERRING EXPRESSION PARTICIPANT : a person, place, or thing, abstract or concrete, capable of functioning as Agent (or Medium) in transitivity a referring expression (must have a referent) ? the potential to function as a discourse referent (i.e. potential to be maintained)

16 Participant vs. participant all participants are realised through nominal groups but not all nominal groups realise participants (Martin, 1992:129) Ngps not realising a participant: Attributes, e.g. He is a nice man meteorological it, its raining Some indefinite nominal groups, e.g. he didnt see anyone Range/Scope in some cases, e.g. take a bath, have dinner, play tennis.

17 Task: (use sample table) Select a text Identify all referring expressions (RE) used to refer to your chosen referent Alternatively you might want to compare several referents For each RE: State whether presenting or presuming ? Analyse the experiential, interpersonal, and textual meanings Determine the type of phoricity used to maintain the referent.

18 references Halliday, MAK & Hasan, R. (1976) Cohesion in English. London: Longman. Halliday, MAK & Matthiessen, C. (2004) Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Arnold. Martin, J. (1992) English Text. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Martin J.R. & Rose, D. (2007) Working with Discourse: Meaning Beyond the Clause. 2nd ed London: Continuum. Matsui, Tomoko (1993) Bridging reference and notions of 'topic' and 'focus': a relevance-theoretic approach. Lingua 90/1-2,


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