Contrast : a concept in language and its development in Medieval Spanish


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PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
Contrast : a concept in language and its development in Medieval Spanish
Obrist P.
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Université de Lausanne, Faculté des lettres
Faculté des lettresUniversité de LausanneCH-1015 Lausanne
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The purpose of this PhD thesis is to investigate a semantic relation present in the connection of sentences (more specifically: propositional units). This relation, which we refer to as contrast, includes the traditional categories of adversatives - predominantly represented by the connector but in English and pero in Modern Spanish - and concessives, prototypically verbalised through although / aunque. The aim is to describe, analyse and - as far as possible - to explain the emergence and evolution of different syntactic schemes marking contrast during the first three centuries of Spanish (also referred to as Castilian) as a literary language, i.e., from the 13th to the 15th century. The starting point of this question is a commonplace in syntax, whereby the semantic and syntactic complexity of clause linkage correlates with the degree of textual elaboration. In historical linguistics, i.e., applied to the phylogeny of a language, it is commonly referred to as the parataxis hypothesis
A crucial part of the thesis is dedicated by the definition of contrast as a semantic relation. Although the label contrast has been used in this sense, mainly in functional grammar and text linguistics, mainstream grammaticography and linguistics remain attached to the traditional categories adversatives and concessives. In opposition to this traditional view, we present our own model of contrast, based on a pragma-semantic description proposed for the analysis of adversatives by Oswald Ducrot and subsequently adopted by Ekkehard König for the analysis of concessives. We refine and further develop this model in order for it to accommodate all, not just the prototypical instances of contrast in Spanish, arguing that the relationship between adversatives and concessives is a marked opposition, i.e., that the higher degree of semantic and syntactic integration of concessives restricts some possible readings that the adversatives may have, but that this difference is almost systematically neutralised by contextual factors, thus justifying the assumption of contrast as a comprehensive onomasiological category.
This theoretical focus is completed by a state-of-the-question overview attempting to account for all relevant forms in which contrast is expressed in Medieval Spanish, with the aid of lexicographic and grammaticographical sources, and an empirical study investigating the expression of corpus in a corpus study on the textual functions of contrast in nine Medieval Spanish texts: Cantar de Mio Cid, Libro de Alexandre, Milagros de Nuestra Sehora, Estoria de Espana, Primera Partida, Lapidario, Libro de buen amor, Conde Lucanor, and Corbacho. This corpus is analysed using quantitative and qualitative tools, and the study is accompanied by a series of methodological remarks on how to investigate a pragma-semantic category in historical linguistics. The corpus study shows that the parataxis hypothesis fails to prove from a statistical viewpoint, although a qualitative analysis shows that the use of subordination does increase over time in some particular contexts.
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31/08/2015 10:41
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28/10/2020 6:27
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