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Meaning change in grammaticalization has been variously described in terms of decreasing semantic weight and increasing generality, abstraction, (inter)subjectivity or discourse orientation. The author shows that all these trends are subsumed by the notion of scope increase along a precise hierarchy of semantic and pragmatic layers of grammatical organization such as endorsed by Functional Discourse Grammar. The scope-increase hypothesis is immune from the exceptions and veritable counterexamples to all the aforementioned generalizations and has the decisive advantage of being more objectively measurable, given its direct bearing on actual linguistic structure. The extremely rare exceptions to this generalization are also addressed and found to always result from a type of change independent from grammaticalization – the merger of two separate speech acts.
A Synchronic, Diachronic, and Sociolinguistic Analysis
When I entered her shop, my friend turned to me and said: «Arà, che si dice?» (‘Hey there, how you doing?’). This was not a full-fledged sentence in Italian, as she had thrown a little Sicilian word in – arà. It was a greeting, of course, but also a way of expressing her surprise at seeing me there, and a way of prompting me to start our conversation. The fact she used Sicilian had a clear meaning too: the vernacular indicates a shared social identity.
In a nutshell, this book analyses the cases of Sicilian arà and mentri to understand the complexity of discourse markers: what functions they perform, how they evolve historically, and what their social meaning is in a bilingual speech community.