Volume 13, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1876-1933
  • E-ISSN: 1876-1941
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Grammatical organization of conversational language presents us with the challenge of incorporating recurrent contextual and discourse-relevant properties in grammatical descriptions, as part of speakers’ conventional knowledge. Using data from conversational Czech extracted from the Czech National Corpus, I address this issue by tracing the relationships among a set of dative-marked expressions of interpersonal relations (traditionally labeled ‘ethical datives’) and their connection to argument-expressing dative NPs. The discourse-referential expressions form a family of distinct patterns, the differences having to do with person (1st, 2nd) and number (. vs. .); functionally, they range from marking subjectively assessed newsworthiness to signaling evidentiality and solidarity to expressing the speaker’s emotional state. The attendant reorganization of formal, semantic, and discourse features that define these dative-marked items amounts to several patterns – ‘interactional datives’ – and I show that they have the status of grammatical constructions, which are conventionally tied to certain types of discourse settings and speaker-hearer expectations. In order to represent these constructions and their relationship to other, partially related, patterns, I propose a network representation in the form of contiguous functional spaces that overlap at the boundary between argument-expression and interactional markers.


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