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Author & Title: Martina Lampert, Attentional Profiles of Parenthetical Constructions: Some Thoughts on a Cognitive-Semantic Analysis of Written Language, published in International Journal of Cognitive Linguisitcs, Vol. 2 (1), 81-106, 2011.



This paper’s focus are verbal sequences which, in the written modality of alphabetical orthographic systems, are marked off from their linguistic environment by a conventionalized set of figural elements out of a non-alphanumeric representational system (typically, parentheses, dashes, or commas).

     As these parenthetical constructions are (even traditionally) associated with some notion of attention, Talmy’s (forthcoming) factor model of linguistic attention, informed by a sophisticated theory of language-specific attentional parameters, offers a coherent theoretical and powerful analytical framework that is both sufficiently independent and general to allow for a systematic and encompassive investigation of these constructions’ attentional specifics.

       Proceeding from Talmy’s analysis of parenthetical delivery in the spoken modality, some initial suggestions will be submitted of how to adapt his insights into attention and parentheticity to the particular conditions and specific demands of the written language: Two fundamental attentional mechanisms from a category of causal factors affecting linguistic entities in the context, Backgrounding the target and Targeting a concomitant of a referent, are scrutinized for a systematic analysis of major constructional variants of parenthetical constructions.

        Applying this novel and promising approach, it proves sensible to delineate an attentional profile of (the) parenthetical construction(s) based on a(nother) pivotal factor, The generalized form-semantics association.



Keywords: Leonard Talmy, Talmy’s attention system in language, parenthetical construction(s), written modality


Link to International Journal of Cognitive Linguistics:






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