The Interpersonal Metafunction of and-Parenthetical Clauses in English Journalism

Analyzing the Media - A Systemic Functional Approach - Martin Kaltenbacher

Carlos Prado-Alonso [+-]
University of Oviedo
Carlos Prado-Alonso works as a full time lecturer in English Language and Linguistics at the University of Oviedo (Spain) and is a member of the Research Group Variation Linguistic Change and Grammaticalization based at the University of Santiago de Compostela. He studied English Language and Literature at the University of Santiago de Compostela where he received his PhD in 2008. From 2009 to 2012 he worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Santiago de Compostela. He also stayed, as a Visiting Fellow, at Departments of English Language and Linguistics of the University of Manchester (2006), the Complutense University of Madrid (2009-2010) and the University of Edinburgh (2011-2012). Most of his published work has been on the analysis, from a functional corpus-based perspective, of several English syntactic constructions, including inverted constructions, verbal anaphoric structures and parenthetical clauses. In 2012 his monograph Full-verb inversion in written and spoken English (Peter Lang, 2011) received the prestigious ESSE 2012 Book Award in the category of English Language and Linguistics by the European Society for the Study of English.


In the last decade, parenthetical constructions – that is, detached structures (often clauses) which may be inserted in the middle of another structure, and which are not fully integrated in the sense that they could be omitted without affecting the rest of the structure – have been the subject of extensive research from a functional perspective (see Blakemore 2005, 2006, 2007; or Dehé 2014; Dehé and Kavalova, 2007, among others). This study is a further contribution to this line of research and provides a corpus-based analysis of one type of parenthetical construction namely, and-parenthetical, as shown in (1), in texts taken from press reportages, press editorials and press reviews. (1) What I’m saying – and I’m really agreeing with Bill here – is that anti-social behaviour orders are the end of the line. The analysis of and-parentheticals has been utterly neglected in the literature from a corpus-based perspective, and it has been mainly restricted to the spoken mode, as and-parentheticals have been traditionally considered a speech-bound phenomenon (cf. Kavalova 2007). In order to bridge the gap, this study analyses the functional behaviour of and-parentheticals in written texts. The data are taken from six computerised corpora of British and American Present-day English newspapers taken from the ICAME family of corpora: namely the LOB, the Brown, the FLOB, the FROWN, BrE06 and AmE06 (cf. Hofland et al 1999 and Baker 2009). It has been usually argued that and-parenthetical clauses are not only mainly restricted to speech, but are also the result of a stylistic choice or the result of a sort of on-line reformulation and revision (cf. Blakemore, 2005). However, the statistical analysis of more than 600 instances of and-parentheticals retrieved from the corpora shows that these types of constructions feel also at home in writing and that —in press reportages, editorials, and reviews— they can also be considered interpersonal discourse markers of persuasion and addressor involvement in discourse. In other words, the analysis will show that and-parentheticals also serve an interpersonal metafunction in British and American English newspapers, and are used as linguistic devices that provide the addressee with (background) information expressing the addressor’s degrees of commitment, judgments, or opinions in the context of the main utterance. Beyond that, the detailed statistical comparison —based on tested criteria of linguistic variation (cf. Biber 1988)— of the functional behaviour of and-parentheticals in press reportages, editorials, and reviews will also show that there is a tendency for those texts with a higher degree of interpersonal or addressor involvement to favour the use of these constructions.

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Prado-Alonso, Carlos. The Interpersonal Metafunction of and-Parenthetical Clauses in English Journalism. Analyzing the Media - A Systemic Functional Approach. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Oct 2019. ISBN 9781781796269. Date accessed: 18 Jul 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.32950. Oct 2019

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