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Switch attention (aka switch reference) in South American temporal clauses: facilitating oral transmission


Van Gijn, Rik (2012). Switch attention (aka switch reference) in South American temporal clauses: facilitating oral transmission. Linguistic Discovery, 10(1):112-127.

Abstract

Cultures without a written tradition depend entirely on the oral channel to transmit sometimes highly complex information. It is therefore not surprising that in the languages of such cultures linguistic devices evolve that enhance textual coherence, and thus comprehension. These devices should ideally also be economical in terms of morphosyntactic complexity in order to facilitate both production and comprehension. In this paper, I will argue that switch-attention (a term preferred over the traditional switch-reference) systems in temporal clauses fulfill these requirements of cohesion and complexity reduction, making them particularly apt for orally transmitting texts. Moreover, switch-reference systems seem to diffuse relatively easily. These features taken together are suggested to be (partly) responsible for the widely attested phenomenon in areas without a lengthy written tradition.

Abstract

Cultures without a written tradition depend entirely on the oral channel to transmit sometimes highly complex information. It is therefore not surprising that in the languages of such cultures linguistic devices evolve that enhance textual coherence, and thus comprehension. These devices should ideally also be economical in terms of morphosyntactic complexity in order to facilitate both production and comprehension. In this paper, I will argue that switch-attention (a term preferred over the traditional switch-reference) systems in temporal clauses fulfill these requirements of cohesion and complexity reduction, making them particularly apt for orally transmitting texts. Moreover, switch-reference systems seem to diffuse relatively easily. These features taken together are suggested to be (partly) responsible for the widely attested phenomenon in areas without a lengthy written tradition.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Comparative Linguistics
Dewey Decimal Classification:490 Other languages
890 Other literatures
410 Linguistics
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:13 Nov 2013 09:14
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:08
Publisher:Dartmouth College Library
ISSN:1537-0852
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Official URL:http://journals.dartmouth.edu/cgi-bin/WebObjects/Journals.woa/1/xmlpage/1/article/407?htmlAlways=yes

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