131108Re: Articles and the Givenness Hierarchy
- May 2, 2005"David J. Peterson" nevesht:
>In my languages, I've traditionally avoided things like definiteIn the Salishan Languages on the Pacific Northwest of North America, there
>and indefinite articles because: (a) I don't like them, and (b) I
>can't seem to avoid making them work like English (or Spanish).
>The result is that definiteness/indefiniteness isn't marked with
>articles in any of my languages. Nevertheless, something like
>definiteness (i.e., how salient the information presented should
>be to the hearer) is marked in every language, though differently
>for each. By trying to avoid the problem, I know doubt unwittingly
>reproduced English-like constructions.
>To that end, we recently read a paper in my pragmatics class
>which presented a theory about what the authors call givenness.
>The reference is:
>Gundel, J., N. Hedberg, R. Zacharski (1993). Cognitive Status and
> the Form of Referring Expressions in Discourse. Language,
> Vol. 69, 2:274-307.
>(It's available from jstor.org.)
>Anyway, I thought the *idea* presented was neat, and might be
>useful to conlangers, so I thought I'd give you the gist of it.
>[Note: I'm presenting this as an "if-this-were-true-it-might-be-
>cool" theory. The paper and theory have *many* problems. In
>fact, my pragmatics professor is writing a response to the article,
>since apparently no one else has critically reviewed it since it's
>Okay, the givenness hierarchy. Essentially, the givenness
>hierarchy is a hierarchy of how "in focus" a given NP is. (How
>is "in focus" defined? You'd be hard-pressed to find an answer
>to that in the article. Think of it as "most relevant", but with a
>red flag attached.) This hierarchy has six members, arranged
>in a particular order. For any given member n, it is assumed
>that a hierarchical position that is < n will be entailed by n.
>Additionally, for any hierarchical position that is > n, it will be
>assumed that n will conversationally implicate *not* n+1, n+2,
>etc. That's a vague description, but just keep it in mind as
>we go along.
>The givenness hierarchy is as follows (going from least to
>1. Type Identifiable
>3. Uniquely Identifiable
>6. In Focus
are two articles (not counting gender, number, etc.): referential and
nonreferential. Referential covers 2-6, nonreferential 1 (heavily used in
negative and hypothetical contexts).
In many creoles, there are three forms: definite, indefinite, and
definite: uniquely identifiable to speaker and hearer
indefinite: uniquely identifiable to speaker
indeterminate: not uniquely identifiable
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