Thursday, April 23, 2015

Topic? Who knows!

The various definitions of topic remain problematic. The most accepted conception of topic, the notion of “aboutness,” has thus far resisted objective formulation, despite valiant efforts on the part of many researchers. Gómez- González (2001: 31) sums up the state of the field as follows: “the intricacies raised by the numerous and heterogeneous variations of the semantic interpretation have led many scholars to conclude that Theme/Topic in terms of aboutness cannot be regarded as an objectively identifiable unique category, but as a clearly intuitive, and therefore subjective concept.”— Word Order in the Biblical Hebrew Finite Clause, page 33

<idle musing>
Ain't that the truth! I'm wading through Lambrecht's Information Structure and Sentence Form: Topic, Focus, and the Mental Representations of Discourse Referents right now. Talk about dense! And confusing doesn't begin to describe it...I've heard people say it is one the hardest books they ever read. I agree. I'm not sure if it is the subject or the writing—or both!

So, for someone to say that the whole idea of topic is "problematic" is refreshing. At least I'm not the only one confused...
</idle musing>

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