Lexis-grammar complementarity and person: a cross-linguistic study
This week’s seminar will be presented by Pin Wang from Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
The linguistic category of person identifies, tracks and differentiates participant roles in discourse. Person in this study focuses on the linguistic resources involved in identifying people in discourse across languages, which involve a complex series of choices in relation to discourse roles, number, gender, case, pronominality, inclusiveness, reflexivity, honourification, politeness, proximity, etc. In terms of the SFL model of stratification, systemic features of person as discourse semantic choices are realised by lexicogrammar, whose components – lexis and grammar – are two poles of a single continuum and form a relationship of complementarity in the process of construing human experience as meaning. Person is realised by either lexical means (words for entities, occurrences, and qualities) or grammatical means (personal pronouns, pronominal particles, pronominal clitics, inflectional affixes, and zero forms) and at other points along a grammar/lexis continuum. From a typological perspective, there are different tendencies for the realisation of person across languages. Based on observation of the lexical and grammatical realisation of person-related meaning in multiple languages, this study reveals the diverse ways in which participant roles are not only construed, but also enacted (interpersonally) and tracked (textually) in discourse.