LINGUIST List 15.2207

Tue Aug 3 2004

Diss: Writing Systems: Dausse: 'Written...'

Editor for this issue: Takako Matsui <takolinguistlist.org>


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  1. francois-dausse, Written Language and Intonation...

Message 1: Written Language and Intonation...

Date: Tue, 3 Aug 2004 06:32:07 -0400 (EDT)
From: francois-dausse <francois-dausseclub-internet.fr>
Subject: Written Language and Intonation...

Institution: University of Paris 3, Sorbonne Nouvelle
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2001

Author: Francois Dausse 

Dissertation Title: Written Language and Intonation: Theme in Written
Language

Linguistic Field: Writing Systems

Dissertation Director 1: Claude DELMAS
Dissertation Director 2: Mary-Annick MOREL
Dissertation Director 3: Henning NOLKE
Dissertation Director 4: Alain DESCHAMPS

Dissertation Abstract: 

Intonation in written language is not a linguistically-questionned
matter because the communication pattern it involves is not globally
taken into account. This pattern can be figured like this: you choose
to write because you cannot talk to the person(s) you wish to now. As
a result, you have to represent her/him linguistically in your mind
i.e. what s/he knows, what s/he doesn't and to modify her/his image
one utterance after the other, i.e. what s/he knows, what s/he still
doesn't know at any given time of your writing. The representation
involved also includes her/his impossibility to interfer with your
speech: s/he cannot interrupt you any moment. What you do then is to
imagine yourself speaking to someone else, that is you build sentences
syntactically and you speak them to that virtual her/him. Moreover,
the writer puts him- or herself constantly in the reader's position
through rereading, i.e. written language is not intrinsically
ambiguous. Writing consists in taking down a pre-syntactized because
pre-uttered form, but only the syntactic level will be taken
down. Reading will then consist in the reconstruction of the
discursive level from the syntactic one. This reconstruction is not a
difficult one, given that the reader unconsciously knows that what
s/he is reading has the feature 'this has already been
said'. Moreover, the writer interfers with her/his own encoding
through punctuation marks which helps guide the reader in pointing out
the problems arising from interferences between syntactic level and
discursive one, the problem consisting in signalizing the reader the
duplication of syntactic structures as there is only one written
utterance in for example any book but quite a number of sentences in
it.

My study of the comma helps specify the punctuation mark function: it
confirms the right intonation pattern the reader must find (through
rereading if necessary). One of the comma role, when at the beginning
of a sentence (after a prepositional phrase or on each side of an
adverbial located just after the grammatical subject) is to confirm
the change of the syntactic theme. As a general rule, the 'puncteme'
function is to mark the possible conflict between two linearizations
(syntactic, discursive, narrative, story, linearizations).
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