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"Double reference" in Kala Lagaw Ya narratives

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Abstract

The label “double reference” is introduced to describe clauses which incorporate reference to the same participant in the same grammatical function via use of two distinct nominal expressions. This paper investigates the discourse-referential function of double reference in narratives in Kala Lagaw Ya, the language of the Western Islands of the Torres Strait. A distributional analysis of the reference tracking options used in the stories is reported, with particular discussion of the Givónian measures of “Referential Distance” and “Potential Interference”. For referential distance the results situate “double reference” as an intermediate accessibility marker, falling between ellipsis and pronouns on the one hand and full nps on the other, but patterning statistically with the latter. With respect to a measure of potential interference, the results are suggestive in locating double reference at the extreme positive end of the scale, although this tendency is not statistically significant. Finally, a narrative structure analysis of one story is reported, showing that double reference almost always occurs in the introductory clauses of three highlight episodes of the story.

References

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