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Chapter 7. “Worth a moment’s notice”

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Abstract

This paper explores the competition between round brackets and other punctuationmarks as delimiters of kinesic parentheticals in Austen’s dialogue (e.g.said Harriet, in a mortified voice). Drawing mainly on an analysis of Emma,the investigation suggests that, linguistically, round brackets in Austen arepreferred over other punctuation marks in cases where the kinesic parentheticalis not introduced by a reporting clause and takes the form of an -ing clause(e.g. laughing affectedly). Stylistically, the data show that kinesic parentheticalsare amenable to an interpretation along Mahlberg’s (2007) distinction between‘contextualising’ and ‘highlighting’ textual functions; the ‘highlighting’ functionsbeing more prominent when the kinesic information is introduced byround brackets. More generally, the paper provides an example of how punctuationcan contribute to textual structuring. Jane Austen is known to have dislikedparenthetical attributions of speech (Toner 2012). In this connection, the papertentatively suggests that the use of rounds brackets as kinesic parentheticalmarkers in her work may partly be the result of Austen’s stylistic experimentationwith ways of avoiding attribution of speech markers and helping the readerto identify secondary (female) characters.

References

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