Series:

Sara Gesuato

Abstract

The verb COME followed by an infinitive signals goal-directed motion (“He often came to visit me”) or completion of a process (“She came to expect the worst”). In the former case, COME is used literally (‘move close to’), the infinitive encoding a clause of purpose. In the latter, COME is used aspectually (‘end up (V-ing)’), the infinitive encoding the resultative notion of culmination of an event. Concordances from the Bank of English online show that the aspectual sense of COME is more common than the literal one, and that while the former is associated with verbs denoting deliberate actions, the latter is instantiated with verbs denoting involuntary experiences. However, in specific syntactic environments (embedding of COME under “how” or “why”) the construction activates an aspectual interpretation (‘decide, happen, come about’) even when the infinitival complement refers to a voluntary act. Also, while the matrix clause can combine with auxiliaries and morphological markers to encode temporal-aspectual distinctions, it is preferentially encoded in the simple present, the simple past or the present perfect tense. Overall, the data suggests that the aspectual meaning of the COME + infinitive construction is typically associated with the presentation of complete events seen as ‘unintentional consequences’.

Series:

Sara Gesuato

Abstract

Motion verbs can literally encode goal-oriented motion (come to the office; come to the meeting) or metaphorically express a change of state (come to a decision), including when they are followed by non-finite complements (come to say good-bye; come to conclude).

Analysis of about 1,400 corpus concordances reveals that go to V mainly encodes its motional meaning, in association with human subjects (88 percent; Jeremy goes to answer the door) and, occasionally, four related figurative ones: ‘other-determined transfer or use (of a resource)’ in association with inanimate subjects (three percent; and everything went to pay debts); ‘contribution to an outcome’ when collocating with verbs denoting involuntary processes (two percent; there are too many factors that go to make up a great marathon runner); ‘succeeding (in demonstrating)’, if co-occurring with pronominal subjects identifying inanimate, abstract entities, and with the verbs prove or show (six percent; and it just goes to prove anybook-body can play); and ‘going on or proceeding (with a course of action)’ in association with human subjects performing deliberate acts not involving physical motion (one percent; we then have to go to develop the job into […] a strategy).

Acceptability judgements expressed by twelve native speakers on 20 sample sentences show that the motional meaning of go is also applicable to the construction variant be going to V if the scenarios represented express short-term goals.

The motional meaning of go thus appears to be synchronically relevant to its verbal complements in specific lexico-syntactic environments, allowing metaphorical extensions outside the domain of tense.

Series:

Sara Gesuato

Abstract

HAVE been to V metaphorically represents the performance of a recent past event (‘having just V-ed’) as round-trip motion to/from a destination (e.g. she has been to look at the garden). Data from seven corpora reveals that the construction is used to denote deliberate, goal-oriented, short-duration activities (e.g. buy a dress, pick up a chap), that it often expresses the meanings of ‘visually perceiving/experiencing (entertaining) events’ (e.g. watch quite a few games) or ‘paying a visit’ (e.g. meet his bankers), and that it strongly correlates with the verb see. Questionnaire data collected from 11 native English speakers shows that the construction typically represents errands (e.g. look for him; get a hair cut) – possibly involving exchanges of information or goods/services (e.g. ask about that trip to Naples; book our seats) – and generally, but not systematically, prefers the encoding of deliberate telic events (e.g. say a prayer). The findings suggest that HAVE been to V expresses the general notion of ‘coming back from getting something done at a previous location’, since it is associated with contexts relevant to the representation of errands. Also, its frequent encoding of the specific notions of ‘visiting someone’ or ‘watching something (for fun)’ can be motivated with reference to the errand-like nature of these activities, whose performance requires – by default – a temporary change of location. Therefore, the elicited data hints at the wide semantic scope of the construction, while the corpus data highlights its prototypical meaning.

Series:

Sara Gesuato

Abstract

This study considers four pairs of English near-synonyms Italian learners have difficulties telling apart because their members are translated the same way into Italian (island – isle ‘isola’, feeble – weak ‘debole’, gratefully – thankfully ‘con gratitudine’, and to adore – to worship ‘adorare’). It examines concordances of the near-synonym pairs from the Bank of English to identify the phraseological patterns these terms are associated with. The data collected indicate that each term is characterized by a distinct prototypical usage, but can also occur in the context of use of its near-synonym (although not to the same extent). The findings suggest that foreign language students should be sensitized to the prototypical context specificity of each near synonym, as this may prevent an incorrect use of terms. At the same time, they also reveal that, in the case of near-synonyms, a term and its immediate co-text are not always reliable predictors of each other.

Series:

Sara Gesuato

Abstract

This paper raises the issue of the identifiability of moves in speech and writing. The question addressed is whether reliable, convergent criteria can be provided for their recognition in stretches of discourse. The discussion is motivated, on the one hand, by the variety of coding schemes presented in the literature for the description of, supposedly, the same kinds of goal-oriented discourse, and on the other, by the frequent lack of explicit motivation in the adoption of one or the other of the available coding schemes for the analysis of exemplars of given texts or tokens of given text units. While the complexity of interactional phenomena cannot be reduced to neat classification templates – with clear-cut boundaries between neighboring categories of communicative behavior – just for the sake of building elegant theoretical models, the various functional descriptions offered on speakers’ and writers’ rhetorical choices should be justified only by the varied manifestations of discursive behavior themselves rather than the varied intuitions of researchers; more importantly, the suitability and accuracy of these descriptions in accounting for discursive behavior should be explicitly verified. To this end, this paper proposes a focused reflection on the non-obviousness and degree of analytical “fitness” of a fundamental tool of the trade in text analysis – the move. This notion, which has been fruitfully applied to the examination of many types of discourse, bringing to light the rhetorical structure and strategic nuances of speech acts and genres, is however often identified intuitively, and not explicitly operationalized. A proposal is therefore made on how to systematically go about defining and recognizing moves in discourse through a staged, multi-perspective procedure, which takes multiple parameters into consideration.

Series:

Francesca Bianchi and Sara Gesuato

Series:

Edited by Francesca Bianchi and Sara Gesuato

Pragmatic Issues in Specialized Communicative Contexts, edited by Francesca Bianchi and Sara Gesuato, illustrates how interactants systematically and effectively employ micro and macro linguistic resources and textual strategies to engage in communicative practices in such specific contexts as healthcare services, TV interpreting, film dialogue, TED talks, archaeology academic communication, student-teacher communication, and multilingual classrooms. Each contribution presents a pedagogical slant, reporting on or suggesting didactic approaches to, or applications of, pragmatic aspects of communication in SL, FL and LSP learning contexts. The topics covered and the issues addressed are all directly relevant to applied pragmatics, that is, pragmatically oriented linguistic analysis that accounts for interpersonal-transactional issues in real-life situated communication.