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Book Sections Year : 2004

'Focus of attention' in discourse

Francis Cornish


The four Topic statuses recognized in FG ("Given", "Sub", "Resumed" and "New") appear to subsume the distinction in Columbia School linguistics (CS) between "Focus" (a two-level set of instructions to the addressee to treat the content of the constituent so-marked as needing or as already assuming a high(er) or a low(er) degree of attention concentration on his/her part) and "Deixis" (a three-way scale of "insistent urging" encoded by given pronouns or demonstratives that the addressee locate the intended referent). In this chapter, I critically examine these two partially overlapping systems, suggesting a partial synthesis, and then re-assess the four-way Topic distinction in FG in terms of this account of the CS 'Focus'-'Deixis' system. My aim is to pinpoint the nature of the discourse-level phenomena being captured by the two approaches, in order to determine the extent to which each theory can benefit from the other's insights. Finally, I suggest how the resulting conception of the topic function within discourse might be integrated into the new Functional Discourse Grammar model.


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hal-00967212 , version 1 (28-03-2014)


  • HAL Id : hal-00967212 , version 1


Francis Cornish. 'Focus of attention' in discourse. J.L. Mackenzie & M.A. Gomez-Gonzalez. A New Architecture for Functional Grammar, Mouton de Gruyter, pp.117-150, 2004, Functional Grammar Series 24, 3-11-017356-5. ⟨hal-00967212⟩
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