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Topic Continuity in Discourse : A Quantitative Cross-Language Study :  a Quantitative Cross-Language - T. Givon

Topic Continuity in Discourse : A Quantitative Cross-Language Study

a Quantitative Cross-Language

By: T. Givon


Published: 31st December 1996
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The functional notion of "topic" or "topicality" has suffered, traditionally, from two distinct drawbacks. First, it has remained largely ill defined or intuitively defined. And second, quite often its definition boiled down to structure-dependent circularity. This volume represents a major departure from past practices, without rejecting both their intuitive appeal and the many good results yielded by them. First, "topic" and "topicality" are re-analyzed as a scalar property, rather than as an either/or discrete prime. Second, the graded property of "topicality" is firmly connected with sensible cognitive notions culled from gestalt psychology, such as "predictability" or "continuity". Third, we develop and utilize precise measures and quantified methods by which the property of "topicality" of clausal arguments can be studied in connected discourse, and thus be properly hinged in its rightful context, that of topic identification, maintenance and recoverability in discourse. Fourth, we show that many grammatical phenomena which used to be studied by linguists in isolation, all partake in one functional domain of grammar, that of topic identification. Finally, we demonstrate the validity of this new approach to the study of "topic" and "topicality" by applying the same text-based quantifying method to a number of typologically-diverse languages, in studying actual texts. Languages studied here are: Written and spoken English, spoken Spanish, Biblical Hebrew, Amharic, Hausa, Japanese, Chamorro and Ute.

1. Topic continuity in discourse: An introduction (by Givon, T.), p1; 2. Topic continuity in Japanese (by Hinds, John), p43; 3. Topic continuity in written Amharic narrative (by Gasser, M.), p95; 4. Topic continuity and word-order pragmatics in Ute (by Givon, T.), p141; 5. Topic continuity in biblical Hebrew narrative (by Fox, A.), p215; 6. Topic continuity and discontinuity in discourse: A study of spoken Latin-American Spanish (by Bentivoglio, Paola), p255; 7. Topic continuity in written English narrative (by Brown, C.), p313; 8. Topic continuity in spoken English (by Givon, T.), p343; 9. Some dimensions of topic-NP continuity in Hausa narrative (by Jaggar, P.), p365; 10. Topic continuity and the voicing system of an ergative language: Chamorro (by Cooreman, Ann), p425; 11. Index of names, p491

ISBN: 9789027228635
ISBN-10: 9027228639
Series: Typological Studies in Language
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 492
Published: 31st December 1996
Publisher: John Benjamins Publishing Co
Country of Publication: NL
Dimensions (cm): 21.0 x 15.2  x 2.7
Weight (kg): 0.59