Steiner, Prof. Dr. Erich
Universitaet des Saarlandes

Prof. Dr. Erich Steiner
Fachrichtung 8.6 Angewandte Sprachwissenschaft
Uebersetzen und Dolmetschen
Universitaet des Saarlandes
Postfach 15 11 50
D-66041 Saarbrucken
Federal Republic of GERMANY

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Strand: Discourse other or lexicogrammar other

Title: Construing contextualization as meaning - some thoughts on a semantics for THEME

In this talk, the title of which is deliberately worded as an analogue to [Halliday and Matthiessen, in press], yet stands for something much more limited and mode rate than its model, we shall address a few questions relating to a semantic interface between Theme-systems in lexicogrammar on the one hand, and a semantics of contextualisation through thematization on the other. We shall start by discussing contextualization through thematization as one of four general grounding devices in human languages, proceeding to a consideration of various types of textual motivations for grammatical Theme-selections and the need, from there, of a semantic interface between the basically open set of textual motivations and the closed systems of grammatical choices. As an example of such an interface, we shall discuss a Theme-semantics that was initially outlined for German texts (cf. [Ramm et al ., 1995]). We shall finally illustrate an application to a sample text.

Our thoughts offered here address questions which have found interest in a number of working contexts before. Apart from continuing aspects of these lines of investigation, we shall address questions of language-specificity vs. commonality across languages, and the possible contribution of a semantic interface of the type suggested here to a Multi-Media Discourse Analysis Handbook of the type envisaged by the congress.


[Halliday and Matthiessen, in press] Michael Alexander Kirkwood Halliday and Christian M.I.M. Matthiessen. Construing experience as meaning. Foundations of Communication and Cognition 1. Mouton De Gruyter, Berlin etc., in press.

[Ramm et al., 1995] Wiebke Ramm, Annely Rothkegel, Erich Steiner, and Claudia Villiger. Discourse Grammar for German. Deliverable of ESPRIT Basic Research Project DANDELION Deliverable R2.3.2., Commission of the European Union, Brussels, September 1995.