Genericitet i text

Detta är en avhandling från Stockholm : Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis

Sammanfattning: This dissertation examines genericity from a textual perspective. The material consists of popular science texts about species of animals. The investigation concerns both the distribution of different forms of generic noun phrases and the boundary between generic and non-generic noun phrases. The analytical tools are taken from Accessibility Theory and Blending Theory.Two separate studies have been undertaken. The results of the first study indicate that generic reference on the whole follows the same principles of accessibility as non-generic reference, although there are some differences that can be attributed to the distinction between generic and non-generic reference. Some results suggest that our mental representations of generic referents are generally less accessible than those of non-generic referents. Factors other than accessibility influencing the choice of generic noun phrases are also identified.While genericity is generally treated as an all-or-nothing phenomenon, an important experience of this first study concerns the difficulties facing anyone who tries to distinguish between generic and non-generic noun phrases in authentic texts. These difficulties are the centre of attention in the second study, which shows that genericity is an extremely context-dependent phenomenon. The sentence context may clearly indicate a particular, non-generic reference, while the wider context of the text reveals that the noun phrase in question is in fact generic. Not infrequently, chains of reference involve a great deal of shifting and slithering between a generic and a non-generic meaning, although the references are seemingly coreferential. It is sometimes difficult to decide on the real referents intended. At times there are also clear cases where the noun phrase must be analysed as referring to both generic and non-generic entities at the same time. This implies that it is unlikely that we actually decide for every reference if it is generic or non-generic.

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