Saturday, 2 May 2015

Confusing Nominal Group Deixis With Reference And A Self-Contradiction

Martin (1992: 98):
As noted in section 3.2 above, one of the relative peculiarities of English as far as grammatical resources for identifying participants is concerned is its definite/indefinite article system.  This system fleshes out nominal group structure to the point where every time a participant is mentioned, English codes the identity of that participant as explicitly recoverable from the context or not.  This contrasts with the situation in Tagalog where in [3:3] neither participant is so marked; Tagalog's grammar need not assign definiteness, as is reflected in the ambiguity of the English gloss.
[3:3]  ka-pa-pasok ng babae sa tindahan
          just entered    woman     store
          'A/the woman has just entered a/the shop.'

Blogger Comments:

[1] Here again Martin confuses nominal group deixis with cohesive reference, and reduces it to the in/definite article distinction, which he misconstrues as a system of "definiteness".  See previous post.

[2] To be clear, in its referential function, the "definite" article realises non-specific demonstrative reference.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 630):
The word the is still really a demonstrative, although a demonstrative of a rather peculiar kind. … Like the personals, and the other demonstratives, the has a specifying function; it signals ‘you know which one(s) I mean’. But there is an important difference. The other items not only signal that the identity is known, or knowable; they state explicitly how the identity is to be established. … In other words, the merely announces that the identity is specific; it does not specify it. The information is available elsewhere. It may be in the preceding text (anaphoric); in the following text (cataphoric); or in the air, so to speak.

[3] This directly contradicts Martin's claim on the preceding page (p97):
And unlike English, the Theme in Tagalog is almost always definite.

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