Two levels of foregrounding in literary narratives

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Discourse analysts and linguists have used the term “foregrounding” to refer to “… new information, in contrast to elements in the sentence which form the background against which the new elements are to be understood …” (van Peer & Hakemulder (2005). These foregrounded / backgrounded elements are linguistically marked by various “foregrounding / backgrounding markers”, used conventionally in standard language use. A few literary examples are analyzed which make deviatory use of those “foregrounding / backgrounding markers” (e.g., by marking central events in the story by “backgrounding markers”), yielding a “higher order foregrounding effect”, which corresponds to the notion of foregrounding as used by literary theorists. In this article, the relation between these two notions and levels of “foregrounding” is discussed.


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