I skriftens gränstrakter : Interpunktionens funktioner i tre samtida svenska romaner
Sammanfattning: Punctuation is an indispensable element in formal and literary texts as well as everyday writing. Studying punctuation is therefore necessary in order to understand written language. Still, it does not fit easily into descriptions of language as an abstract, given system, composed of lexicon and grammar. Within the framework of Bakhtinian dialogism, however, linguists have started to study languaging as an interactive, situated process, meaningful in concrete, embodied utterances. While many such studies have focused on spoken language, this PhD dissertation is an attempt to study written language from a dialogical perspective. The aim of the study is to explore the functions of punctuation and to integrate the analysis of punctuation into a broader theoretical understanding of written language. This is achieved through qualitative analyses of three contemporary Swedish novels: DIVA by Monika Fagerholm (1998), Förvandling by Eva Adolfsson (2005) and Fadevår, tack för ljuset! by Fredrik Ekelund (2010). In order to discover the rich meaning of specific instances, linguistic details are studied in relation to different aspects of context: the local co-text of the sentence, paragraph, chapter and novel as a whole, relevant intertextual contexts, and, to some extent, contemporary literary movements and technological developments, etc.In all of the three novels, punctuation is an integrated element of style and characterization, and important thematic aspects of each novel are visible at the level of punctuation. General patterns are also to be seen, the most important of which concern, firstly, how punctuation divides the units of written language, and regulates the relationship between these units, and secondly, how shifts in voice and tone are constructed in the novels with the help of punctuation. Furthermore, punctuation can create visually iconic references. The results have many implications for further research. Punctuation is a necessary and integrated part of written meaning-making and should not be overlooked in text analyses. Moreover, punctuation plays a crucial role in the construction of aspects like viewpoint and discourse presentation, which can no longer be ignored. On the spatial surface of text, writers and readers create complex interplays of voices.
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