Towards a discourse-pragmatic description of left-dislocation in biblical Hebrew

Westbury, Joshua Ryan (2010-12)

Thesis (MA (Biblical Languages))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This is an exploratory investigation into the discourse-pragmatic function(s) of the so-called Left-Dislocation construction in Biblical Hebrew. This inquiry is a part of a larger investigation into the nature and function of word order variation in Biblical Hebrew. In light of past research on Biblical Hebrew word-order variation, specifically concerning Left-Dislocation constructions, it is concluded that a re-analysis of Left-Dislocation constructions in Biblical Hebrew is called for. Advancements within the fields of cognitive-functional linguistics and discourse-pragmatics (information-structure) have afforded numerous avenues towards a more comprehensive cognitive-oriented frame of reference for ascertaining the functions of Biblical Hebrew word order variation. The discourse-pragmatic and cognitive-functional notion of information-structure serves as the basis for the theoretical framework employed in the present investigation. Information-structure is principally concerned with the question as to why grammars of natural language offer speakers a variety of morphosyntactic and prosodic options for expressing the same propositional content. Since the Left-Dislocation construction is a universal syntactic phenomenon, typological information regarding the form and function of Left-Dislocation constructions across languages served as a critical source of insight into the prototypical formal features and functional domains of the construction within Biblical Hebrew. The insights garnered from cross-linguistic data informed the parameters employed in the construction and construal of a random data-set of one hundred cases of Left-Dislocation drawn from the narrative portions of the Hebrew Bible stretching from Genesis to 2 Chronicles. The investigation of our data-set, within the confines of a discourse-pragmatic framework, reveals that Left-Dislocation constructions in Biblical Hebrew are principally employed to facilitate the topic-promotion of identifiable but inactive discourse-referents. These referents could be the primary or secondary topics of the sentences in which they are used.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie is 'n verkennende ondersoek na die diskoerspragmatiese funksie(s) van sogenaamde linksverskuiwing ('Left-Dislocation') konstruksies in Bybelse Hebreeus. Hierdie vraagstelling vorm deel van 'n meer omvattende ondersoek na die aard en funksie van woordorde-variasies in Bybelse Hebreeus. Na aanleiding van 'n uitvoerige literatuurstudie oor die funksie(s) van woordorde-variasies in Bybelse Hebreeus, veral met betrekking tot linksverskuiwingskonstruksies, is tot die gevolgtrekking gekom dat 'n heranalise van linksverskuiwingskonstruksies in Bybelse Hebreeus nodig is. Vooruitgang op die gebiede van kognitiewe-funksionele taalkunde, en tekspragmatiek (informasiestruktuur) het dit moontlik gemaak om 'n meer omvattende kognitief-georiënteerde verwysingsraamwerk vir die bepaling van die funksie(s) van Bybels-Hebreeuse woordorde-variasies te formuleer. Die diskoerspragmatiese en kognitiewe-funksionele opvatting van informasiestruktuur dien as die basis vir die teoretiese raamwerk wat in die huidige ondersoek gebruik is. Informasiestruktuur is hoofsaaklik gemoeid met die vraag waarom die grammatika van natuurlike taal aan sprekers 'n verskeidenheid van morfosintaktiese en prosodiese opsies bied vir die uitdrukking van dieselfde proposisionele inhoud. Aangesien die linksverskuiwingskonstruksie 'n universele sintaktiese verskynsel is, is taaltipologiese inligting oor die vorm en funksie van die linksverskuiwingskonstruksie gebruik om insig te kry in die prototipiese formele eienskappe en funksies van die konstruksie in Bybelse Hebreeus. Aan die hand van bg. taaltipologiese insigte is parameters geformuleer aan die hand waarvan 'n ewekansige monster voorbeelde van linksverskuiwing uit verhalende tekste uit Genesis tot 2 Kronieke ondersoek is. Daar is bevind dat linksverskuiwing in Bybelse Hebreeus hoofsaaklik aangewend word om identifiseerbare, maar onaktiewe diskoersreferente te promoveer as topieks. Hierdie referente mag primêre of sekondêre topieks wees.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/5258
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