Quality or Presentation? The role of the verb in the functional sentence perspective


ADAM Martin

Year of publication 2021
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Education

Description The author was invited to this prestige event as a pupil and followere of Firbasian theory of functinal perspective (FSP). He gave a paper on the distinction between presentation and quality scale sentences that play a vital role in FSP. The point is that the English verb either ascribes a quality to the subject, bridging its specification (Quality Scale), or presents something new on the scene, expressing the existence or appearance of the phenomenon on the scene with “explicitness or sufficient implicitness" (Presentation Scale) (Firbas 1995: 65). Thus, the verb represents a factor that is capable of “perspectiving” the information structure of the sentence, reflecting the distribution of the degrees of communicative dynamism over individual units. This becomes even more significant when it comes to comparing information structure principles across languages, when translating and teaching/learning a foreign language, etc. The paper shed light on different types of verbs and their operation in the sentence perspective, especially in such sentences that manifest differing syntactic configurations in English and in Czech, particularly the English sentences with a rhematic subject in preverbal position (e.g. Panic |Rh| seized her. vs its Czech functional equivalent Zachvátila ji panika |Rh|). Special attention was paid to the potential role of semantic affinity operating between the subject and the predicate.

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