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LINGUIST List 19.3661

Sat Nov 29 2008

Diss: Semantics/Syntax: Moncomble: 'Contribution to a ...'

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        1.    Florent Moncomble, Contribution to a Psychomechanical Analysis of Zero Determination in Present-Day English


Message 1: Contribution to a Psychomechanical Analysis of Zero Determination in Present-Day English
Date: 29-Nov-2008
From: Florent Moncomble <fmoncombleyahoo.com>
Subject: Contribution to a Psychomechanical Analysis of Zero Determination in Present-Day English
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Institution: Université du Littoral Côte d'Opale
Program: HLLI
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2008

Author: Florent Moncomble

Dissertation Title: Contribution to a Psychomechanical Analysis of Zero Determination in Present-Day English

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics
                            Syntax

Subject Language(s): English (eng)

Dissertation Director:
Carl Vetters
Nigel Quayle

Dissertation Abstract:

This work aims at redefining the principles underlying the identification
and interpretation of unmarked determination of the noun in English. It is
based on the observation of a corpus consisting of press articles and radio
and television broadcasts.

A clear distinction between two phenomena can be made by the use of the
criterion of commutation: the absence of any article, and the zero article.
The former is found especially in expressions where the noun is only a
pre-substantive, deprived of internal incidence and thus incapable of
referring. The latter signals a genuine operation of determination, as
opposed to the mere designation of the notion, insofar as the noun phrase
is provided with a reference: here we have a real zero marker, a
significate with a null signifier.

The zero article comes first in the sequence of determinations. It
represents an immanent prehension of the notion as it crosses the threshold
between tongue and discourse. It gives an interior view of the referent,
devoid of any outlines, which is found notably in the imperfective view of
process nouns. The co-utterer bases his reconstruction of the reference,
which is sometimes prepared in advance, on the saliency of the referent in
the context. The zero article in itself is neither specific nor generic: at
the level of tongue, it represents an extensive movement which stretches
from the particular to the general.

The theory is applied to three cases: the translation from English to
French of the absence of marked determination; the apparent absence of
articles in newspaper headlines; zero determination in A. Proulx's novel
'The Shipping News'. These investigations confirm the absence of
article/zero article dichotomy and the fundamental value of the latter.



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