[b-greek] Re: Constituent order

From: c stirling bartholomew (cc.constantine@worldnet.att.net)
Date: Fri Nov 23 2001 - 14:22:35 EST

on 11/23/01 7:24 AM, Nicholas A Bailey wrote:

> Two
> fundamental categories of information structure are 1) what is part of the
> common ground (“presupposition”) between the speaker and hearer, and 2)
> what is the new idea that the speaker wants the hearer to realize by
> making the utterance (assertion, or what is “asserted”). Most or perhaps
> all communication relies on a relationship between these two cognitive
> categories, by relating a new idea to some kind of background or knowledge
> presupposition. The terms topic/point of departure and focus, which
> Levinsohn uses, are subcategories of presupposition and assertion. Here
> are some general correlations:


Just a few preliminary remarks.

Having read and studied over the last decade most of the authors you mention
and a number that you did not mention, I was still having problems
understanding the big idea in the "topic/point of departure" model until
recently reading:

Heimerdinger, Jean-Marc. Topic, focus and foreground in ancient Hebrew
narratives, Sheffield Academic Press, c1999.

One thing that Heimerdinger's work (well worth reading) accomplished was
that he connected the general notions of presupposition and assertion to
the concept of "Frames" which was known to me from by dealings with the
world of Artificial Intelligence 20 years ago. Once he had made this
connection then a lot of things that were still fuzzy seemed to fall into

The difficulty I was having reading T. Givon and S. Dik was that they were
presenting so much new information that I didn't have any framework in which
to place it. I think a lot of b-greek people will have this same problem
with Levinsohn (2nd ed. 2000) as well.

As for S.E. Porter, J. Reed and all the other folks from Roehampton, their
use of a S-Functional model, in my mind, puts them "out of the mainstream."
Having read almost everything that has come out of Roehampton on DA, I find
that the S-Functional model is a liability, not an asset. This may be just a
matter of having tread a different path, but I tried to give the
S-Functional model a fair trial but after about five or six years I lost
patience with it.

Thanks for your post.


Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

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