2008 | 125 |
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On some constraints on pronominal anaphora in contemporary Polish – an analysis from the point of view of Cognitive Linguistics

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In my contribution I aim to take a close look at the constraints on pronominal anaphora in contemporary Polish, within the framework of Cognitive Grammar. I analyze conceptualizations collected from written and spoken Polish in which two objects ‘compete' for the role of the antecedent for the unstressed anaphoric pronoun and a particular type of construction which I focus on in the data is insertion in brackets. Trying to find some general principles in evaluating an object's likelihood to function as an antecedent for the pronoun in these particular circumstances, I discuss the nature of the antecedent (the conceptual object) and the factors determining its degree of prominence in the discourse. In accordance with K. van Hoeck's research (1995, 1997) prominence is defined in the article from the point of view of R. W. Langacker's grammar in terms of figure/ground organization, semantic role, empathy hierarchy and conceptual (semantic) connectivity within a clause.The analysis demonstrates how complex anaphoric reference in discourse is and to what extent it is dependent on the context. Additionally, it offers some preliminary observations on the role of prominence in anaphoric reference in Polish. Nominal co-reference in the discussed constructions cannot be reduced to simple patterns which have become conventionally established and can be adopted to new expressions, but should rather be seen as an interaction among the conceptualizer, the recipient, the pronoun and the context in which the pronoun occurs at a particular moment in the discourse. Such interaction can be seen as a kind of reference negotiation. Surprisingly, language users prefer by an overwhelming majority to search in some way for relevant information in the immediately accessible context. A method which is less economical than using a pattern (or a schema), rooted in, for example, empathy hierarchy or conceptual connectivity. A more economical way of using schemas in anaphoric reference in Polish can be observed first of all in conceptualizations in which competing objects participate in an explicit interconnecting relation, as, for example, in the complement chain.
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