Sociobiological Bases of Information Structure [book]

Viviana Masia
2017 Advances in Interaction Studies   unpublished
List of abbreviations Posspossessive PLUPRF -pluperfect COMcomitative DEF -definite DATdative DIRdirect evidential QUOTquotative RPT -reportative NOMnominative SG -singular TEMPtemporal NAR -narrative NEGnegative CNJ -conjectural STATstative MOD -modal NMLnon masculine Y/Nyes/no VOCvocative IMP -imperative FIRSTHfirst hand OPT -optative NON.FIRSTHnon first hand EVID -evidential REPreportive PROGR -progressive PRESpresent LOClocative DIRdirectional EV -Evidential REFLreflexive IMPFimperfective
more » ... plural NARRnarrative PARTparticiple EVENeventive INFRinferential EMPHemphatic GENgenitive CAUcausative ACCaccusative INFinfinitive ARTarticle REMremote 1 The more extensive discussion is reported in Harnad S. (1976), Induction, evolution and accountability, «Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences» 280, 58-60. in distributing given and new contents according to his intended goals in the conversation. The inter-independence of the presupposition-assertion, topic-focus and given-new pairs is more extensively debated in terms of their interaction with different memory stores in the human cognitive system (Section 1.3.5). In Chapter 2 (Sociobiological Perspectives: For an integrated account of Evidentiality and Information Structure), a socio-interactional facet of Information Structure is explored. Here, the topic/focus and presupposition/assertion categories are laid out as markers of evidential meanings in discourse. More particularly, adopting a broader notion of evidentiality (entailing both the indication of the source of information and the speaker's epistemic attitude to it), I describe presupposition and topic as outward expressions of a factual stance taken by the speaker, and that allows him to communicate information that he assumes to be previously shared by the receiver (Section On the contrary, assertion and focus tie the speaker to an evidence-based representation of a state of affairs, in which case he takes a personal experience stance on it (Section For the purpose of our discussion, an integrated account of evidentiality and micropragmatic facts does not only find Information Structure a place in epistemological conceptions of meanings (as Nuyts rightfully remarked in his 2001 volume Epistemic Modality, Language, and Conceptualization), but also allows us to elaborate on the implications of transacting new information in contexts or social dimensions in which its communication appears particularly costly for the speaker. A case in point I will discuss is exemplified by what Givón (2002) called societies of intimates (Section 2.3), which he claims to epitomize -our bio-cultural descent‖. A remarkable feature displayed by these social communities typically made of a restricted number of peopleis the treatment reserved to the communication of new information, whose (possible) repercussions on the entire speech community call for compelling socio-interactional evaluations on the part of speakers. This explains why interactions in these social realities are massively regulated by strict provisos dictating which contents can or cannot be communicated, and in what way they are expected to be communicated. In this chapter, it will be speculated that the way the categories of Information Structure are used in present-day ordinary conversations may in part reflect one of the reasons why they emerged in utterances to meet the aforementioned conversational constraints: modulate speakers' stances on sentence meanings, so that questionable information or information about others is diffused
doi:10.1075/ais.9 fatcat:3wfung4p5bbvpfcwzgzu6cmliq