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Language characterology and textual dynamics: a crosslinguistic exploration in English and Scottish Gaelic

Bartlett, Tom ORCID: and O'Grady, Gerard ORCID: 2019. Language characterology and textual dynamics: a crosslinguistic exploration in English and Scottish Gaelic. Acta Linguistica Hafniensia 51 (2) , pp. 124-159. 10.1080/03740463.2019.1650607

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In the present paper, we bring together concepts from the Prague School and Systemic Functional Linguistics to compare the means by which cohesion and information structure are signalled in English and Scottish Gaelic. We start with a brief discussion of textuality across languages and question the universality of Halliday’s concept of Theme. From there, we present a contrastive overview of textuality in the two languages, in which we characterise English as participant-oriented and Gaelic as process-oriented. We then provide a detailed analysis of the range of ways in which the distinct resources of each language combine to structure the flow of a narrative text in its English and Gaelic versions, as translated by the author. In this way we demonstrate: (i) how the form and function of the textual resources available in each language can be related to their distinctive characterologies; (ii) how these individual resources function differently within the two texts; and (iii) how the distinct functions realised at the clausal level nonetheless interact to fulfil broadly equivalent functions in terms of the semantic relations indexed between consecutive stretches of text above the clause. Building on these findings, we suggest more general points regarding the appropriate units of analysis in (crosslinguistic) discourse analysis and typology and the level of abstraction of linguistic universals.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge): SSH Titles
ISSN: 0374-0463
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 September 2019
Date of Acceptance: 30 July 2019
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2022 16:37

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