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7 - Subjectivity in texts

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 June 2010

Carlota S. Smith
Affiliation:
University of Texas, Austin
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Summary

In all Discourse Modes and genres, one finds passages that suggest a particular voice. They convey a sense of subjectivity, a point of view toward propositional information. “Point of view” is familiar as a literary term referring to presentation of the mind of a fictional character in narrative. More generally, point of view is “the perceptual or conceptual position in terms of which narrated situations and events are presented” (G. Prince 1987:73). Linguists now use the term for expressions of speech and thought, evidentiality, perspective, and other indications of an authorial or participant voice. “Point of view” is used almost interchangeably with “perspective” and “subjectivity.” I shall use the latter term as more general. Subjectivity is conveyed by grammatical forms and lexical choices.

Three traditions come together in the area of subjectivity. One is deixis and its linguistic expression. Deixis is a general term for the centrality of the here and now in language. The study of deixis takes as basic the canonical speech situation with Speaker and Addressee, and explores its linguistic ramifications. The second tradition involves evidentiality, indications of the source and reliability of information. Evidentiality is a relatively new term for the semantic field of attitude toward knowledge, a kind of modality. Linguistic resources for this vary strikingly across languages. Finally, subjectivity conveys the contents of mind and personal perspective; here linguistic study is complemented by a strong literary tradition.

Type
Chapter
Information
Modes of Discourse
The Local Structure of Texts
, pp. 155 - 184
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2003

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  • Subjectivity in texts
  • Carlota S. Smith, University of Texas, Austin
  • Book: Modes of Discourse
  • Online publication: 18 June 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511615108.009
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  • Subjectivity in texts
  • Carlota S. Smith, University of Texas, Austin
  • Book: Modes of Discourse
  • Online publication: 18 June 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511615108.009
Available formats
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To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Subjectivity in texts
  • Carlota S. Smith, University of Texas, Austin
  • Book: Modes of Discourse
  • Online publication: 18 June 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511615108.009
Available formats
×