7. An RNT Approach to Participants in English Texts
An Introduction to Relational Network Theory - History, Principles, and Descriptive Applications - Adolfo Martín García
Adolfo Martín García [+]
Institute of Cognitive and Translational Neuroscience (INCYT, Argentina) and the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET, Argentina)
This chapter offers a relational network perspective on pronoun distribution in narration. Although countless nouns can be referred to by only a few (third-person) pronouns, the latter rarely produce ambiguity in discourse, even when the actions of varied participants are described. In narrative, a participant is usually named at first appearance, while pronouns are used for subsequent appearances. Reoccurrence of a name may respond to text length, discourse considerations (e.g., providing new information, establishing a thematic participant), and semantic constraints (e.g., avoiding ambiguity). Following Gleason’s stratificational approach to pronoun occurrence in a folktale in Kâte (a Papuan language), we present a network-based description of noun, pronoun, or zero realization for participant reference in a comparable English text. The chapter shows that discourse-level phenomena in typologically different languages can be characterized using similar resources from Relational Network Theory.