Friday, May 01, 2015

Focus and topic

Although both focusing and topicalization provide an instruction regarding the interpretation of the clause in its context, the two types differ regarding the context involved. Focusing signals a relation between the clause and the context of the addressee’s attention state, whereas topicalization signals a relation between the clause and the linguistic context that accompanies it. As such, topicalization functions in a manner similar to discourse connectives that signal a pragmatic relation between two sentences or text segments.— Word Order in the Biblical Hebrew Finite Clause, page 90

<idle musing>
I don't know about you, but I find topic and focus to be a very confusing mess. I waded through Lambrecht, hoping for clarification and came out even more confused! I've been reading various linguistics introductions and dissertations. They all stumble around when they discuss "aboutness." Do a quick Internet search on linguistics and "aboutness" and tell me in a coherent paragraph what in the world it means!

That being said, I think I am beginning to see, even if dimly and through a fog, what in the world they are talking about. Maybe someday I'll be able to explain it so that someone else can understand it. But not yet...
</idle musing>

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