Linguistics ETDs

Publication Date

5-1-2016

Abstract

This study investigates the relationship between three linguistic functions: thetics, miratives and exclamatives. Thetics are an information structure configuration that conveys that the information is new to the addressee. The thetic subtypes selected for this study are the following: existentials (e.g. There are apples in the kitchen); presentatives (e.g. Heres your book); weather statements (e.g. It rains); physical sensation statements (e.g. My HEAD hurts) and hot news (e.g. MIchael JACKson died). Thetics do not perform a predication but present the state of affairs as a whole. Crosslinguistically, they tend to use morphosyntactic strategies that distinguish them from prototypical predications. Similar morphosyntactic strategies can also be found in miratives and exclamatives. Miratives are defined as grammatical markers that convey that the information is suprising for the speaker, whereas exclamatives are defined as a sentence type that conveys surprise with respect to a scalar extent that has surpassed the current expectations (e.g. How beautiful you are!). I hypothesize that the structural similarities between these functions are motivated by semantic resemblance. The structural features of these functions are compared in a sample of 76 languages, from which 360 constructions were extracted. Multidimensional scaling was used in order to construct a spatial representation of the degree of similarity/dissimilarity of the constructions. The resulting spatial map shows a dimension motivated by a semantic distinction between event-central and entity-central statements. It also shows a second dimension motivated by the following distinctions: 1) an existential domain, 2) a presentational domain, 3) a mirative domain, and 4) an exclamative domain. Several case studies illustrating the relationships between the functions are presented. It is also demonstrated that miratives can establish a distinction between unexpected and misexpected events. As for exclamatives, it is shown that they are related to linguistic hedges that convey the degree of membership of an item into a category. Several neurobiological and psychological correlates are proposed: thetics correspond to two types of awareness, whereas miratives and exclamatives are related to different stages of a cognitive-evolutionary model of surprise.

Language

English

Keywords

Information Structure, Sentence Types, Surprise, Linguistic Typology, Theticity, Mirativity, Exclamativity

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Linguistics

Level of Degree

Doctoral

Department Name

Department of Linguistics

First Advisor

Croft, William

First Committee Member (Chair)

Axelrod, Melissa

Second Committee Member

Cristofaro, Sonia

Third Committee Member

Vallejos Yopan, Rosa

Comments

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