'Focus of attention' in discourse

Abstract : The four Topic statuses recognized in FG ("Given", "Sub", "Resumed" and "New") appear to subsume the distinction in Columbia School linguistics (CS) between "Focus" (a two-level set of instructions to the addressee to treat the content of the constituent so-marked as needing or as already assuming a high(er) or a low(er) degree of attention concentration on his/her part) and "Deixis" (a three-way scale of "insistent urging" encoded by given pronouns or demonstratives that the addressee locate the intended referent). In this chapter, I critically examine these two partially overlapping systems, suggesting a partial synthesis, and then re-assess the four-way Topic distinction in FG in terms of this account of the CS 'Focus'-'Deixis' system. My aim is to pinpoint the nature of the discourse-level phenomena being captured by the two approaches, in order to determine the extent to which each theory can benefit from the other's insights. Finally, I suggest how the resulting conception of the topic function within discourse might be integrated into the new Functional Discourse Grammar model.
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Francis Cornish. 'Focus of attention' in discourse. J.L. Mackenzie & M.A. Gomez-Gonzalez. A New Architecture for Functional Grammar, Mouton de Gruyter, pp.117-150, 2004, Functional Grammar Series 24, 3-11-017356-5. ⟨hal-00967212⟩

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