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Discursive Practices and Linguistic Meanings

The Vietnamese system of person reference

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Abstract

This is a theoretically oriented study of the pragmatics of Vietnamese person reference (kinship terms, personal pronouns, naming set and status terms). Drawing upon linguistic data from a radically different non-Western society and the seminal insights of Volosinov, Bakhtin, and Leach, it offers a critical analysis of the major theoretical premises of dominant approaches to denotation and connotation, to knowledge of language and to knowledge of the world. The study suggests that the pragmatic presuppositions of Vietnamese person-referring forms figure in the native definitions of linguistic meanings as prominently as any denotative features. It is argued that the significance of pragmatic implications should be analyzed in relation to the native speaker's conception of the world.

Subjects: Austro-Asian languages; Theoretical linguistics; Semantics; Pragmatics; Discourse studies

  • Affiliations: 1: University of Toronto

References

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