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Theme and prosody: redundancy or meaning making?

O'Grady, Gerard NIgel 2017. Theme and prosody: redundancy or meaning making? English Text Construction 10 (2) , pp. 274-297. 10.1075/etc.10.2.05ogr

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Abstract

In a series of extremely influential articles published in the 1960s, Halliday illustrated that what the Prague School labelled as Theme was formed out of two separate but related systems which he labelled Theme and Information ( 1967a & b ). However, as Information is a system grounded in spoken language, this separation has had the unfortunate consequence of prioritising the study of Theme in written language. The Thematic structure of spoken language and especially the interplay of Theme and intonation has been consequently neglected. The prosodic system of Key ( Brazil 1997 ) functions like Theme to ground a message in its local context and signal how it is to be developed. This study, by uniquely examining the interplay between Theme and Key, is able to identify a number of novel meanings, the most significant of which is a focus on the enabling of Interpersonal meanings. By so doing, it illustrates that the full semogenetic meaning making potential of Theme, as an unfolding orientating device in spoken discourse, can only be revealed by examining the prosodic realisation of the Theme choices.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Publisher: John Benjamins
ISSN: 1874-8767
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 11 July 2017
Date of Acceptance: 7 July 2017
Last Modified: 30 Oct 2018 08:36
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/102295

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