Language and Linguistics


The Communicative Structure of an English Sentence
Prefaced by a Synopsis of the Cognitive Structures


Dedicated to the memory of Dwight L. Bolinger

Person-and-scholar of great charm-and-integrity




Plan :




  1. The communicative aspect of English sentences: theoretical preliminaries, the cognitive structures: a synopsis, the communicative structure: a review


  1. The communicative orientations of English sentences: the national interpretation, the spoken manifestation, the joining of the two


  1. The communicative structures in English poetry: theoretical preliminaries, a case study


Endnotes, References, Colophon



1          The Communicative Aspect of English Sentences


1.1            Theoretical Preliminaries


1.1.1    The Two Aspects of the Functioning of Language





            What precisely is a language?  Language is what language does.


            Language does two distinct things for humans.  As living beings, on the one hand and, to this end, keep trying to understand reality, keep an eye on the environment with some success on the other hand.  Success means survival of a human individual, of a human population, and, finally, of humankind.


            Humans are living beings like no other kinds of living beings.  A variety of things pass through the human mind: claims on reality and claims from reality in the course of coping with reality and handling the environment and observations of reality and observations on reality in the course of understanding reality and assessing the environment.  These mental contents not only pass through the mind; they are stored and retrieved, arranged and rearranged, processed and newly produced.  Language does two distinct things with mental contents.  Language greatly assists coping by conveying mental contents and greatly assists understanding by helping their processing variously.  Language is a means of communication, an artifact like money or toothbrushes, a human acquisition or achievement. Language is man-made.  But then it is also a medium of cognition, a biofact, like an elephant’s trunk or a dormouse’s hibernation, a human inheritance or innate gift.  Language is nature-made.  The speaking tongue helps man to live no less than the manipulative hand and the perceptive eye.


            As a means of communicating mental contents, language helps people gain social access and secure co-operation.  A language event is a communicative event: it calls for the presence of communicative intent, for the recognition of that intent in mutuality, and for the sharing of the message (what one conveys to another one also conveys to oneself).  Thus, a courtship dance by a male bird is not a communicative event in this full-fledged manner.


            As a medium of cognition, of the processing of mental contents, language helps people gain access to the world and feel at home in the environment, including the human environment.  The message being shared calls for a degree of abstraction of things and their attributes, kind and groupings of things, connections between things and also a measure of concretion, precipitate of pictures and stories and the forces animating these.


            Language underlies language use and the handling of messages.  The ancient Indians traced the progress of the message in the speaker from inner speech (pašyantī) through mediate speech (madhyamā) to outer speech (vaikharī); in the listener the message progress in the opposite direction from outer speech through mediate speech to inner speech.  The matching between the speaker and the listener is what communication through language is all about.  The transit between inner speech and mediate speech is all about.  The transit between inner speech and mediate speech is the transit between what is no more than figured out (sa-vikalpa, rendered potentially intelligible) and what is figured out and also quality-specified (sa-gua, that is to say, characterized by khaṇḍa, krama and jāti, that is segmented, sequential, and classified): that is what cognition through language is all about.  The transit between mediate speech and outer speech is the transit between what is no more than figured out and quality-specified and what is figured out, quality-specified, and also accessibly formed (sa-ākāra, accessibly formed and so rendered, sva-para-savedya, intelligible to self and to others).


            Looking out of the window, one sees falling drops of water.  One ‘sees’ that it is raining. One then recalls a dark cloud.  One wonders about the connection between the direct experience and the recalled experience, and welcomes the rain on a stuffy afternoon.  One ‘sees’ in a flash how the dark cloud has brought welcome rain.  This inner seeing, this figuring out is inner speech.  Animals, higher animals at any rate, are capable of this figuring out, in a rudimentary manner in any case.


            One silently says to oneself in English or Hindi or whatever and hears oneself saying this or that thing, ‘the dark cloud has brought welcome rain’ in the present instance.  This is inner speech getting translated, so to say, into mediate speech.  This figuring out has been subjected to concretion and abstraction and to one’s choosing one’s way between the salient and the recumbent depending on the focusing of attention in mediate speech.


            One may then choose to speak out to another and choose what one speaks about.  The outcome is outer speech.  One hopes that the listener will arrive at a seeing that is reasonably close to one’s own seeing.


            The listener proceeds in the opposite direction, hoping that the seeing arrived at in the end is reasonably close to the speaker’s original seeing.


1.1.2    The Corresponding Two Aspects of the Formation of Sentences


A sentence has two distinct, though interconnected, aspects.


            The aspect of sentence formation that is relatively closer to the understanding of the world through the medium language is the cognitive structure of the sentence.  The aspect of sentence formation that is relatively closer to the management of everyday communication by means of language is the communicative structure of the sentence.


            The sentence in its cognitive aspect is essentially bifocal.  The bifocality is not embarrassing at all; it is simply a fact of life.  Those who find it embarrassing will present any sentence either as the enlargement of the predicate with one or more elements which complement that predicate or as the enlargement of the subject with a more or less complex predicate, which will offer a report or comment on the subject or proposes a claim to be fulfilled in the subject.


            The sentence in its communicative aspect is essentially bipolar.  The bipolarity is not embarrassing at all; it is simply a fact of life.  Those who find it embarrassing will present every sentence either as a man presenting claim on or from reality or as a statement presenting observation of or on reality.


1.1.3.   The Communicative Transaction and Episode


            In a communicative event among people, at least two of them, there is a communicative transaction between the speaker who communicates and the listener who is being addressed.  (Any other listener on the scene is only listening in, not being the addressee.)


            What passes between the two interlocutors is the message.  The message is a passage between the specific communicative intention-claim (vivakā) to the on-going communicative discovery (pratīyamāna).  The passage is successful to the extent that the message has intentionality (tātparya, that-for-ness), that is, the capacity to fulfill the intention-claim in the discovery, so that the intention-claim on the speaker’s part and the on-going communicative discovery on the listener’s part match each other:


            The communicative act takes place with the support of language.  Only with this support the act can reconcile the mater-in-hand (prastuta  prakaraa), what the message is all about to the situation-at-hand (prapta prasaga), the context of the communicative act.


            The communicative transaction appears in the course of a communicative episode such as a bargaining dialogue, a sermonizing monologue, or a cogitating interior monologue.  (In the last case, the communicator is also the addressee).  The situational context thus comes to have a cotextual element.


            Again, the communicative transaction may be one of many similar transactions that the interlocutors are aware of.  The interlocutors may be identical, and so forth.  The situational context thus comes to have an intertextual element.  Thus, the bargaining dialogues between a householder and the familiar green-grocer will tend to follow a certain set pattern.  Likewise, with the trade-unionists’ haranguing monologues, or with the research-worker’s habitual cogitating interior monologues.


1.1.4    The Conditions of the Success of a Communicative Transaction


            Saying that a piece of linguistic communication has been unsuccessful really amounts to saying that no communication has taken place since the communicative discovery has failed to match the communicative intention-claim.  Hence, there is little point in speaking of unsuccessful communication in trying to understand how linguistic communication comes about.  Linguistic communication takes place only if communication is both feasible and worthwhile.


            Sharing language is a necessary condition but not a sufficient condition for the communication to be feasible.  Keeping the channel free from noise, distraction, and inattention is again necessary but not sufficient.  In any case shared language and channel are only broad conditions.  Focusing on the specific transaction, communication is feasible only if the speaker and the listener share in advance of the transaction a portion of the message.  A communication is worthwhile if the speaker is ready to share with the listener, by virtue of the transaction, the remaining unshared portion of the message.


            The shared-in-advance portion of the message, the backgrounded portion is the Topos (prakaraa, siddha).  The yet-to-be-shared portion of the message, the foregrounded portion is the Scriptum (prastāva, sādhya).  Given the message, the Topos and the scriptum can be recognized as together forming the message.


            What does the worthwhileness of the communication consist in?  The answer to this question depends on the way the message gets connected with the mater-in-hand and with the situation-at-hand or context.  How do the Topos and the Scriptum match with each other?  In its bipolarity, the sentence is either a statement presenting observation of reality or on reality or a mand presenting claim on reality or claim from reality.


            A Statement will offer an observation of or on reality so as to confront the matter-in-hand as presented.  If and only if the Scriptum matches the Topos, the statement is deemed to be valid (yathārtha).  The Topos is the topic and the Scriptum is a report or a comment on the topic.  As in the statement, Might—is right.  A statement will also offer to fit into the situation-at-hand as present.  How do the specific intention-claim and the on-going discovery match with each other?  The statement is suasive if and only if the claim of validity gets accepted.  Statement is suasive if and only if the claim of validity gets accepted.  Statements may be factive, that is, validity-oriented, or persuasive, that is, suasion-oriented.  Factive statements describe the Topos in terms of the Scriptum; persuasive statements ascribe the scriptum to the Topos.


            A Mand will offer to stake a claim on or from the matter-in-hand as presented so that, if and only if the Topos matches the Scriptum, the Mand is deemed to be fulfilled (caritārtha).  The scriptum is the script of what is being recommended or demanded and the Topos is the scope of conformation to the script.  As in the Mand, Let right – be might.  A Mand will also offer to fit into the situation-at-hand as present. Again, how do the intention-claim and the discovery match with each other?  The Mand is suasive if and only if the claim of fulfilment gets accepted.  Mands may be mandatory, that is, fulfilment-oriented, or persuasive, that is, suasion-oriented.  The distinction between mandatory and persuasive Mands applies across the board to the various kinds of mands – questions, calls, binds, and releases – whether these demand or no more than recommend.  Mandatory mands prescribe the scriptum in terms of the Topos; persuasive mands inscribe the Scriptum into the Topos.


            Occasionally, sentences may be neither statements nor mands.  The Communicative act is simply a language-rite.  It will offer to fit with the matter-in-hand presented as an exclamation (what one can’t help saying, typically addressed to the present company) or an interpersonal performative (effecting, renewing, or abrogating amity or hostility or decorum) so that, if and only if the exclamation reflects the feeling or the interpersonal performative fits the intent, the language-rite is deemed to be appropriate.  A language-rite will also offer to fit into the situation-at-hand present.  It is suasive if and only if the claim of appropriateness gets accepted.


            Notice the communicative functions and sub-functions (statement, question, call, bind, release, exclamation, and interpersonal performative) are open to displacement in interpretation.  Thus, a question may be interpreted as a request-mand (A cigarette?), a call as an exclamation (O God!), a statement as a language-rite (Nice weather), a question as a statement (Isn’t it so? Why not?), a language rite as a question (I beg your pardon?).  Further, a statement or a mand may have an exclamatory component.


1.1.5    The Condition of Language Sharing


English is a language like no other language.


            What precisely makes a language identical with itself?  The chances are that in respect of inner speech and of outer speech languages are not too different from each other since figuring things out in terms of capturing abstractions and precipitating concretions as in inner speech and of rendering and recognizing speech patterns as in outer speech are activities that draw largely upon human inheritance or innate gift as a living being.  It is in respect of mediate speech that human acquisition and achievement is likely to play a greater part in the shape of conventions.  After all language is as much man-made as it is nature-made.


            In order that the speaker’s communicative intention-claim arising out of a specific understanding of the matter-in-hand, that is being presented may be more or less faithfully communicated to the listener being addressed so that the addressee arrives at a similar understanding of the matter-in-hand, the two interlocutors have to make use of more or less the same body of conventions.  Indeed so much so that the two interlocutors should be in a position to interchange their language roles, the listener turning speaker and the speaker turning listener at the very next turn.  Attuning is necessary.  It is not enough that the two interlocutors broadly share an inherited cognitive capacity and an inherited speaking-listening capacity.


            The communicative transaction between the speaker and the listener in a specific language consists of the production of the sign vehicle on the speaker’s part and the reception of the sign message on the listener’s part.  The mediating sign-relation between the sign vehicle and the sign message takes the shape of the sign node (the ancient Indians called it sphoa).  The attuning is ensured at the sign node.  To sum up –


            1.          (a)            The communicative transaction consists of –

                                    production : reception.


                        (b)            The sign-relation in language connects –

                                    sign vehicle : sign node : sign message

                                    where the sign node encompasses the varying part-by-part manifestations of the vehicle as well as the varying part-by-part interpretations of the message.


            How does a language-user, speaker or listener or listener as the case may be, move between the sign vehicle and the sign node?  This is done through a recurring, unified speech form.  And how does a language-user move between the sign node and the sign message?  This is done through a recurring, unified notional form.  The recurrence  overcomes the variation and the unity overcomes  the partition.  In consequences the transaction is now seen to be not a two-phase affair but a four-phase affair.  To sum up once more –


            2.        (a)            The transaction consists of –

                                    formulation : rendition : recognition : comprehension

                                    where formulation and comprehension are aspects of sign interpretation and rendition and recognition are aspects of sign-manifestation.


                      (b)            The sign-relation in language connects –

                                    sign vehicle : speech form : nodal form : notional form : sign message.


            The formation of a linguistic form is the spelling out of its nodal form.  The node of the sign relation is so placed that manifestation (that is, rendition and recognition) on the one hand and interpretation (that is, formulation and comprehension) on the other hand could proceed in relative independence from each other.  The independence is of course only relative since the mediating sign node is shared by the transaction phases on either side of it, namely, formulation/comprehension on one side and rendition/ recognition on the other side.  This being so, notional partitions and distinctions are a useful clue to speech partitions and distinctions and speech partitions and distinctions are a useful clue to notional partitions and distinctions.  (The substitution tests based on this insight are called commutation tests).  The nodal form, therefore, has to be linked to the speech form in two steps; abstract speech form closer to the node and concrete speech form will be more accessibly and more naturally formed than the abstract speech form.  Likewise, the nodal form has to be linked to the notional form in two steps, abstract notional form closer to the node and concrete notional form closer to the sign message, out of which the abstract notional form will be more accessibly formed than the concrete notional form, but, at the same time, the concrete notional form will be more naturally formed than the former being closer to the primordial figuring of human cognition (the inner speech discussed at 1.1.1 and the start of 1.1.5).  To sum up –


            3.            The sign relation in language connects –

                        sign vehicle : concrete speech form : abstract speech form : nodal form : abstract notional form : concrete notional form : sign message.


            The formation, the manifestation, and the interpretation of any linguistic form operative in a given language, say English, is the business of linguistic analysis.  The formation constitutes the nodal piece of the grammar-and-lexis apparatus.  Formation, manifestation, and interpretation have each a core that is largely dependent on human inheritance in its relative constancy and simplicity and a periphery that is largely dependent on place-and-time-specific human acquisition and achievement in its relative variability and complexity.  The challenge to linguistic analysis is doing justice to both these aspects of the linguistic apparatus without getting carried away by either of these aspects.



1.2       The Cognitive Structures of English Sentences: A Synopsis


            English sentence formation, as we have already seen, will have two aspects, the cognitive and the communicative.  As the primary focus of the present study will be the communicative structure of English sentences, we shall present here no more than a brief synopsis of the cognitive structure by way of a background for the ensuring somewhat more detailed review of the communicative structure of English sentences.


            Again, as we have already indicated, the sentence in its cognitive aspect is essentially bifocal and is therefore open to being presented in two ways that are complementary to each other.  Either we can think of the sentence as the enlargement of the predicate by one or more elements that variously enlarge it or we can think of the sentence as the enlargement of the subject by a complex of various elements that enlarges the subject.  In the verb-centered view, the verbal predicate figures as a nucleus with a variety of margins, some elucidatory, some complementary, and some amplificatory. In the subject figures as a nucleus with a marginal residue made up of the verbal and other elements allied to it.  Since the two views, the verb-centered and the subject-centered, are both relevant to the understanding of the cognitive structure, both will be presented here.


            According to the verb-centered view, a sentence –


(a)        needs to have a predicate nucleus in the shape of a verb;


(b)        needs to have an elucidatory margin in the shape of a complement (typically an adjective or a noun) provided that the verb so selects;


(c)        needs to have a complementary margin in the shape of an agent (typically a noun), an object (typically a noun), and a tenant (typically a noun or an adverb) provided that the verb so-selects;


(d)        may have an amplificatory margin in the shape of an adverb indicative of extent, quality (inclusive of instrument), place, time, and circumstance.


            Accordingly, the verbs may be of various types depending indicative of extent, quality (inclusive of instrument), place, time, and circumstance.


1.      agent, object, complement, tenant: He paid the amount as an advance to her for the house.

2.      agent, object, tenant: She warned him of the danger.

3.      agent, object, complement: She made him uneasy.

4.      agent, object: She ate the cookie.

5.      agent, complement, tenant: She became influential with the client company.

6.      agent, tenant: She went abroad.

7.      agent, complement: He became the president.

8.      agent: She jumped.

9.      complement, tenant: It was too hot for her.

10.  complement: It became hot.

11.  none of these: It dawned.


Notice that whenever a verb selects the object, it also selects the agent.


            Notice the unmarked overt order of the nuclear and the elucidatory and complementary margins in the sentence, namely – agent, verb, object, complement, tenant.


            Amplificatory elements, if any are present, will be placed at the end. 


            Note that ‘unmarked’ means ‘in force unless there is good reason for a departure’ here and elsewhere.


            Note that complements are object-referent if there is an object (examples 1, 3), agent-referent if there is an agent but no object (examples 5, 7), and verb-referent if there is neither of these (examples 9, 10).  Note that the verb, in selecting tenants, may select source-tenant, site-tenant, destination-tenant; the terms ‘source, site, destination’ can be interpreted metaphorically as well.


            According to the subject-centered view, a sentence –


(a)     needs to have a subject nucleus, typically the agent.


(b)    needs to have predicate, typically the verb, or the verb with the complement.


(c)     needs to have a complementary margin to the predicate, the margin being the theme (typically the object) and the substrate (typically the tenant) provided the predicate so selects.


(d)    may have an amplificatory margin to the predicate, the margin being the theme (typically an adverb indicative of extent and quality inclusive of instrument).


(e)     may have an amplificatory margin to the predicate together with the theme and the substrate if so selected, the margin being the circumstantial (typically an adverb indicative of place, time, circumstance).


            This composite view of the cognitive structure of a sentence is needed so that the following can be accounted for more satisfactorily:


1.            certain non-transparent examples of the selections by the verb:  compare the readjusted ‘She wrapped the cloak around herself’ with the transparent ‘She wrapped herself in the cloak’, the readjusted ‘The football flew across the field’ with the transparent  ‘The sparrow flew across the room’, the readjusted ‘This pond abounds in fish’ with the transparent ‘Fish abound in this pond’.  The typical correspondences subject/agent, theme/object, substrate/tenant do not always hold.


2.            certain readjusted rearrangements of the cognitive structure: compare the non-transparent ‘It became hot’ with the transparent ‘The air became hot’, the non-transparent ‘The flour was poured into the bag by her’ with the transparent ‘She poured the flour into the bag’, the non-transparent ‘He cut the rope with a knife’ or ‘His finger got cut with a knife’.  Again, the typical correspondences subject/agent, theme/object, substrate/tenant do not always hold.


3.            certain consequences flowing from the admissibility of such non-transparent structures: compare the admissibility of ‘abundance of fish’ with the inadmissibility of ‘abundance of this pond’; given the transparent ‘She/Jane hurt herself’, compare the admissibility of ‘She/Jane was hurt by herself’ with the inadmissibility of ‘She/Jane was hurt by her’; given the formation ‘She/Jane was hurt by her’, the inadmissibility of the interpretation ‘Jane hurt herself’.


            Notice that the unmarked overt order in the sentence can now be restated as – Subject, Aux, Verb, Theme, Complement, Manner, Substrate, Circumstantial,


an example being –

                        The salesman will give the samples free with a flourish to the crowd

                        after the sales talk.


            The abbreviation Aux will stand for ‘first Auxiliary or be, or have’ and Verb will stand for ‘rest of Verbal’.

            The distinction unmarked/marked when applied to formulation/rendition may also be termed transparent/readjusted here and elsewhere.

            Before we move on to the communicative structure, which is our main concern, a word about the cognitive relationship between the sentence and the phrases entering it.  The cognitive worthwhileness of a sentence consists in its being a valid statement, a fulfilled mand, or an appropriate language rite. Depending on the cognitive contribution of a phrase to the cognitive worthwhileness of a sentence, the phrase is either delimitative and so embedded or not so delimitative and so merely inserted.  Compare ‘She sang naturally/in a natural manner’ and ‘She sand, naturally/as one might expect.’


            So, the verb, the subject/agent, the complement, the theme/object, and the substrate/talent, which constitute the cognitive nucleus of the sentences are all embedded elements.  The amplificatory margins, the manner and the circumstantial, which fall outside the cognitive nucleus, may be either embedded or inserted. Thus – ‘He died yesterday’ answers the question ‘What happened?’, with ‘yesterday’ being embedded, but ‘He died, yesterday’ answers the question ‘What happened yesterday?’, with ‘yesterday’ being merely inserted by way of a presupposition and so liable to being left out as implicit.


            The distinction between the cognitive orientation of the sentence as a whole and that of a phrase included in it has relevance elsewhere too.  The distinction between the global and the focal serves to delimit the scope of certain cognitive operations.  Specifically –


            1.            Global and focal polarity, whether positive or negative.

                        That he has paid the dues is the case/not the case.

                        (Global positive and negative)

                        Somebody/Nobody has paid the dues.

                        (Focal positive and negative)

                        He has not paid the dues.  (Global or focal? It depends!)

                        We need to know about the communicative structure!


            2.            Global and focal question

                        Is that the case?/ Is that not the case?/ Is that the case or not?

                        (Global question)

                        Has anybody/nobody paid the dues? (Focal question)

                        Has he/has he now paid the dues? (It depends!)

                        Who has/has not paid the dues? (Focal question)

                        What has he/has he not paid? (Focal question)


            3.            Global and focal examination.

                        He actually paid/did not pay the dues! (Global or focal exclamation?

                        It depends!)

                        And was he pleased as Punch! (Global exclamation)

                        How nice of him to have paid my dues!/ To have paid my dues was so

                        nice of him! (Focal exclamation)

                        What a fuss he made!/ He made such a fuss!/ (Focal exclamation)


            4.            Global and focal pronominalisation.

                        He paid the dues, which was nice. (Global correlation)

                        He paid the dues.  That was nice (Global demonstration)

                        He paid the dues. So I think/Such is my understanding. (Global


                        The one/He who paid the dues is Charles. (Focal correlation)

                        The one who paid the dues, I know that one/him (Focal demonstration/

non-demonstrative reference)


            Global operations apply to the message as a whole. Focal operations apply to this or that phrasal element within the message.  (The phrasal element under focus needs to be an embedded element). Their scope thus differs significantly.


            Being a synopsis, the present account naturally dwells largely on the core constancies and simplicities of cognitive structures of English sentences.


1.3       The Communicative Structures of English Sentences: A Review


1.3.1    A First Approximation


            A sentence is a sign node in that it joins a sign vehicle, being a recurring, unified speech form, and a sign object, being a recurring, unified notional form. In this, it resembles formative, words, or sentence sequences, but differs from mere speech forms like syllables or breath groups and from mere notional forms like notions or messages.


            A sentence differs from more inclusive sign nodes like sentence sequences in being more manageable, in that it is more detachable from the specific matter-in-hand in cognition and from the specific situation-at-hand in communication.  Being a message it is a minimal unit of cognitive worthwhileness; it can be taken as validated or fulfilled or appropriate by itself.  As such it can be a compact piece of cognition.  Being a message it is also a minimal unit of communicative worthwhileness; it can be suasive by itself.  As such it can be a versatile piece of communication capable of featuring in a variety of communicative episodes.


            A sentence also differs from less inclusive sign nodes like words or phrases in being more viable, in that it is less detachable from the specific matter-in-hand in cognition and from the specific situation-at-hand in communication.  Sentences convey messages, which are compact pieces of cognition and capable of being suasive pieces of communication.  Words and phrases convey messages only when they stand as sentences.  Otherwise, they only convey notions.  Their cognitive worthwhileness consists in being a local nucleus capable of making a reference-claim.  Their limited communicative worthwhileness consists in being a local focus capable of making a felicity-claim.  Their limited communicative worthwhileness consists in being a local focus capable of making a felicity-claim.  (Thus, to somebody saying ‘It’s raining, one may respond by saying ‘Pouring is more like it’, not questioning the reference-claim but questioning the felicity-claim of the word ‘raining’.)


            The first approximation to setting out the communicative structure of a sentence can be made by making certain observations and claims as to the conditions a sentence has to met to deserve to be called a sentence.


1.      A sentence conveys at least one message and essentially only one message. (If it appears to convey more messages than one, they all add up to a single network of messages.)

2.      A sentence has to have a shared-in-advance topos and a yet-to-be-shared scriptum – at least in the unmarked case.

3.      The cognitive structure of the sentence is fairly transparent communicatively.  In the unmarked case, the subject can be taken to be the topos, and the residue can be taken to be the scriptum.  (In English, the residue will be [Aux, Verb, Object, Complement, Tenant, Manner, Circumstantial]).


            Indeed this may be just the way a child speaks in the early stages. 


            In applying these principles to English rather than any other languages, certain amendments need to be offered to fit the varied marked cases where for good reasons certain amendments need to be invoked.


1.3.2            Amendments Needed


            Let us take up the three principles or observation-claims one by one in the reverse order.


            Locating the topos in the subject has all along sounded very plausible.  The subject may or may not be the agent.


            [Charles] [gave a ticket to his daughter]

            [The dog that my brother bought yesterday] [barked at the butcher.]

            [Charles] [had his hair cut.]

            [Charles] [broke his finger.]

            [Our neighborhood butcher] [was bitten by the dog.]

            [Out neighborhood butcher] [was barked at by the dog.]


            In each such case the communicative structure can be set out as –

            sentence (Topos, Scriptum].


            The communicative structure may not, however, always duplicate the cognitive structure: it does so only in the unmarked cases.  Amendments to the three principles, as it were, are called for.


  1.       The order within the scriptum may stand readjusted for good reasons of communication.  Specifically –

(a)       Component, Tenant, Manner, or Circumstantial may be shifted to a post-verbal position.

[Charles] [made good the loss.] (Complement shift)

[Charles] [gave his daughter a ticket]  (Tenant shift)

[Charles’s wife] [put on hold the whole plan.]  (Tenant shift)

[Charles] [passed on the sly the ticket to his daughter.] (Manner shift)

[The king] [will send today his emissary.] (Circumstantial shift)


(b)       Manner or circumstantial may be shifted to a pre-verb position.

[You] [can never tell.] (Manner-extent shift)

[Charles] [was more shouting than speaking.]   (Manner-extent shift)

[The firm] [readily offered compensation.]  (Manner-quality shift)

[The firm] [misguidedly refused compensation.] (Circumstantial shift)


Note : In the case of the Manner-extent ‘not’ the polarity marker, the shift is perpetual.  (Consider the archaic ‘I liked him not.’ and the idiotic ‘You never can tell.’ with the further shift of ‘never’ from the pre-Verb position to the pre-Aux position.)

[Charles] [does not have the money/has not got the money.]

[Charles] [cannot pay the amount.]


Note : The good reasons for these shifts may be the relative length of the elements, idiomaticity, the scope of amplificatory margins, semantic differentiation (‘last’, ‘happily’, ‘naturally’ shift in certain senses).


2.         The order across the Topos-Scriptum border may stand readjusted for god reasons of communication.  Specifically, Aux and the negative element may be shifted to a pre-subject position in certain conditions.


            [Did the dog that my brother bought yesterday] [bark at the butcher?]

            [May God] [bless you!]

            [Don’t you] [take that seat.]

            [Let us] [be frank.]

            [Never you] [mind!]

            [And was he] [hopping mad!] (Informal use)

            [And did he] [blow his top!] (Informal use)


            It will be useful to keep in mind that an order like ABDC can result as much from shifting C to the end as from shifting D to an earlier position.  Notice that amendment 2 marks our moving form principle 3 to principle 2.


3.         In case sentences in a sentence sequence have an identical portion and this permits cotextual recovery, ellipsis or under-manifestation is admissible under certain constraints.



            [Tom] [cheated Charles.]             – [And Charles,] [Tom.]

                                                            --[And] [cheated Harry too.]

                                                            --[And Harry] [did too.]

                                                            --[And] [blackmailed Harry too.]


4.         The Topos-Scriptum boundary may stand undermanifested, if not erased altogether, and the communicative structure can then be set out as – Sentence [Scriptum].  Specifically –


(a)    The subject may be shifted to a post-verbal position, possibly with a position-holder for the subject so shifted, under certain constraints.

[Mind you!]

[Rule Britannia!] (Archaic use)

[There is a picture (hanging) on the wall.] Compare:

      [The picture]  [is (handing) on the wall.]

      [A/Some murderer] [is (lurking) among us in the room.]

[There comes a critical time in our life.] Compare:

      [A critical time] [surely comes in our life.]


(b)   The matter-in-hand is possibly identical with the situation-at-hand, so the topos is left tacit being inferable from the context.


(In response to an inquiring look or a question such as, what happened? or, what do you think of it?)

[The thief has gotten away!], [It is beautiful!], [It is wonderful!]



(Overture of a new communication episode or sub-episode)


[Let me tell you something.], [We lived in the country in those days.], [We have suffered a setback.], [Let us not lose heart!], [Don’t you panic!]

(Identifying label, such as a title) [Ritz Hotel.], [Periodicals.], [On liberty.] {Statements)

(Memorandum, such as a notice) [For your eyes only.], [No smoking.], [Exit.], [Ladies.] (Mandas)

(Calls addressed to persons) [Waiter!], [John!], [O God!], [Hey, boys!], [You there!] (Mands)


(c)    Certain sentential words, conveying the scriptum, incorporate the topos  as it were.

[Yes.], [No.], [Hm.] (Statements)

[Amen.], [Hunh?], [Eh?], [Hey!] (Mands)

[H!], [Alas!], [Ouch!], [Gosh!], [Hello there!], [Goodbye!], [Cheers.] (Language rites)



(d)   The topos is undermanifested if not ellipsed.


[It became hot.], [It is three o’clock], [There is no news yet.] (The subject is no more than a position-holder.)


[Let us be frank!], [Mind you!], [I’d like to have some tea.],  [It can’t have been built by Christopher Wren.] (The subject has the shape of a pronominal that links it up with the communicative transaction or episode.)


(God) [Bless you!], (God) [Confound it!], (You) {Come here!], (You) [Don’t give me excuses!], (I) [Thank you for the compliment.] (I) [Hope so.] (It) [Serves you right!] (The subject is almost routinely ellipsed.)


(It was) [My mistake!], {You’ve) [(Got) a match?], (I shall) [See you again tomorrow.], (Would you) [Care for some tea?],  (It is) [Beautiful!] (The subject-Aux sequence is almost routinely ellipsed in informal use.)


[Thanks.], [Congratulations!], [There, there!], [Nonsense!] (Phrases standing for language rites)


[Out!], [Say when!], [Pretty please!], [Okay.], [Pardon?], [Why stories?], [Why so?] (Shortened mands)


(In response to statements, mands such as questions, calls, binds, releases) [(That’s) too bad!], [Is that so?], [So what?], [Certainly (he did).], [(He went) home.] (stating where he went), [Don’t (do it!)], [Please (do)], [Never mind!], (I’m) here.] [(It is) here.], [Very well.] (Under-manifestation or ellipsis of subject, some of the residual material)


5.         The sentence may not correspond to one and only one message.  Specifically –


(a)     The message of a sentence may incorporate marginal messages.

[Studies,] [yes;] [but stories,] [no.] (‘yes’, ‘no’ incorporated as a scriptum following a topos, yielding sentence sequences)

[Charles,] [and a spendthrift?] [That] [is impossible.] (‘That is’ may be ellipsed.)


(b)    The message of a sentence may get incorporated as a marginal message within a more inclusive message.


[He said, [I don’t know.’]], [[‘So what?’,] [she retorted.], [He said that [he didn’t know].] (Embedded other speech)


[He thought that [nobody knew].], [I was sorry that [I ever doubted her].], [He once doubted whether [she could really do it].] (Embedded mediate speech)


[[Look,] that’s not the way to go about it.], [She was, [I must say,] [formidable.], [Charles went home, [didn’t he?]] (Inserted outer speech concerning the nuclear message as pre-, mid- or post-nuclear marginal message).


[[Barbara,] where are you?], [Is that you, [Barbara]?] (Call as inserted outer speech)


[[Ah,] I see what you mean!], [No, [thank you!]] (Language rite as inserted outer speech)


(c)     The message of a phrase (inclusive of the message of a single word phrase) in the shape of inserted outer speech concerning the nuclear message as marginal message within a more inclusive message.


[[Well,] that’s not the way to go about it.], [He was a [so-called] intellectual.], [Could I have, [say,] three pounds?], [He wasn’t upset in the least, [by the way.]]


            The inserted phrase can well be looked upon as a single-phrase inserted sentence.


            Note that outer speech concerning the nuclear message gets so inserted for a variety of reasons.  Specifically –


(a)      Channel maintenance: well, ahem, er, you see, yes? (the last one from the addressee of a story)

(b)      Language calibration maintenance : so-called, self-styled, literally, nay, so to say, in other words, whatever that may mean, what do you call it?

(c)      Cognitive rapport maintenance: say, so they say, as it where, to begin with, last but not least, lo and behold, as the case may be, respectively

(d)      Communicative rapport maintenance: I mean, isn’t that so?, by the way, come to think of it, that’s well put, you don’t say! (the last two as addressee responses)


            The last two categories can be defined respectively as maintenance of shared perception of the matter-in-hand and maintenance of shared perception of the situation-at-hand.


1.3.3            Additions Needed


            So far we have considered Topos and Scriptum as wholes without considering their internal structure.


            The listener’s attention depends in part on the listener’s perception of the gestalt of the bounded domain – specifically, separation between figure and ground and distance between foreground and background.  Normally, figure gets more attention than the rest of the foreground and foreground than the rest of the ground, that is, the background.


            We have already considered the separation between the foregrounded Scriptum and the backgrounded Topos if any.  Certain elements in the sentence, whether in the Scriptum or in the Topos, may call for special attention on the listener’s part. Such an element is a focus. How does one locate the focus?  There is the scriptive focus, the local focus, and the topical focus.


  1. The cognitive element such that the validity of the statement, the fulfillment of the mand, or the appropriateness of the language rite implicitly turns on that element is the focus.
  2. The cognitive element so selected from the scriptum is scriptive focus.

Sentence [Scriptum [4, 3, 2, 1]] in –


4 I’d 3 like 2 to have a boiled egg for breakfast.  The elements 1, 2, 3, 4 can take turns at being a scriptive focus.  The appropriate questions being raised are –


1.   Is that so?

2.  What would you like to have?

3.   How do you feel about a boiled egg?

4.   Who would like to have a boiled egg?


  1. The cognitive element so selected from a phrase is the local focus.

Sentence [Scriptum [... 2 ...]] as in –

I’d like 2 [to have a 2” boiled 2’ egg] for breakfast.

The appropriate questions being raised are-

2’ What would you like to have?

2” How would you like to have your egg?

Sentence [Topos [4 [... 3 2 1], Scriptum [....]] as in –

[4 The dog that 3 my brother 2 bought 1 yesterday]. [bit the postman] the appropriate questions being raised are –


1.  What animal bit the postman?

2.  How did the brother acquire the dog?

3.  Who bought that dog?

4.  Which dog bit the postman?

The local focus of the Topos as a whole, 1 in the present case, may be termed the topical focus.


            An important communicative need is the need either to make a communicative focus, scriptive, topical, or local, as the case may be, local focus/foregrounded and so salient or make it backgrounded and so recumbent.


  1. The scriptive focus may be rendered salient by front display. The residue of the sentence is backgrounded and segregated, possibly inclusive of a position-holder for the shifted scriptive focus. The communicative structure is: Sentence [Scriptum [Scriptive focus] residue]


[[Go] he must.]

[[A teacher to the core] he certainly was.]

[[Out] they rushed.]

[[Quickly and clearly] he answered the question/]

[[Long] may you live.]

[[A boiled egg] (that) is what I want for breakfast.]

[[It was quickly and clearly] that he answered the question.] (The so-called cleft structure.)

[[Quickly and clearly] (that) is how he answered the question.]

(On hearing, Charles didn’t turn up.) [[So] he didn’t.], [[But] he did.]

[[Having locked up the house,] she went out.]



(a)         When question or exclamation is focal, the scope of that question or exclamation, as the case may be, is the scriptive focus and in front display – obligatorily so if marked by wh-pronominals.

{[What a fuss] he made!], [[Such a fuss] he made!]/[He made such a fuss!]}


(b)         The subject maybe placed inn the post-verbal position – obligatorily so if the front-displayed element is marked for negation or if the verb is marked for a wish-mand.


[[Not till then] did I realize the danger of the situation.]

[[Never] have I seen anything like this.]

(On hearing, Charles didn’t turn up) [[Neither/Nor/No more] did his brother.]

[[Long] may you live!] (A wish-mand.)

[[No,] he said/said he.] (Outer speech as object nominal as scriptive focus in front display.)

[[Out] rushed the man and his wife.]

[[Band] came another shot.]

[[Here comes/There goes] the old lady.]

[A boiled egg] [(that) is what I want.]


  1. The scriptive focus may be rendered salient by end display.  The residue of the sentence is backgrounded and segregated as a scriptive residue, possibly inclusive of a position-holder for the scriptive focus.  The communicative structure is: Sentence [Scriptive residue [Scriptive focus]]

[Our cause has received a setback [because of misrepresentation.]]

[Our cause has received because of misrepresentation [a setback.]]

[I’d like to have breakfast [a boiled egg.]]

[He answered the question [quickly and clearly.]]

(Here there no actual and shift; but re-segmentation of the sentence makes the difference)

[There he sat, [a giant among dwarfs.]]

[Mont Blanc appears [still, snowy and serene.]]

[She went out, [having first locked up the house.]]

[What I’d like to have for breakfast is [a boiled egg.]] (The so-called pseudo-eleft structure, with ‘what’ as a position holder of sorts.)

[The only one who answered the question was [Charles.]] (Also pseudo-cleft, with ‘the one who’ as a position holder of sorts.)

[I find it outrageous [that the hospital gets closed/to close the hospital/closing the hospital.]]


  1. The topical focus may be rendered salient by front display.  The residue of the sentence is segregated as the scriptum, possibly inclusive of a position holder for the topical focus.  The communicative structure is: Sentence [Topical focus, Scriptum]


[[These beads] my mother gave (them) to me.]

[[These beads] I was given by my mother.]

[[These beads] were given to me by my mother.]   (Here there is no actual front shift.)

[[As for these beads,] they were given to me by my mother/my mother gave them to me/I was given them by my mother.]

[[Charles Dickens,] he was a novelist.]

[[Charles] I don’t like (him) at all.]

[[He that is without sin among you,] let him first cast a stone at her.]

[[Whatsoever shall smite thee on the right cheek,] turn him the other also.]

[[Talent,] Mr. Micawber has;] [[capital,] Mr. Micawber has not.]

[[That priest who entered,] do you know his name?]

[[Where there is a will,] there is a way.]

[[His spirit] they could not kill.]

[[Suddenly] the rope gave way.]

[[By the time he arrived,] he was completely exhausted.]

[[On the wall] the picture was hanging.]

[[When in doubt,] win the trick.]

[[If she is poor,]] [[at least] she is honest.] (Sentence [[Topical focus,] Scriptum [[Scriptive focus] residue]])


  1. The topical focus may be rendered salient by end display.  The residue of the sentence is segregated as the scriptum, possibly inclusive of a position holder for the topical focus.  The communicative structure is: Sentence [Scriptum, Topical focus]

[[It is human[ [to err]]; [[but a folly] [to err twice.]]

[It is wonderful [to see you after such a long time.]]

[It is wonderful [to see you after such a long time.]]

[It occurred to me [that he might be ill.]]

[[It is unexampled,] I think,] [Shakespeare’s Negative Capability.]

Sentence [[Scriptive focus] [scriptive residue] [Topical focus]]

[A time will soon come] [when he shall repent.]

[There were among the guests/Among the guests were] [the Prime Minister and his children.]

[I stand here/Here I stand] [your most obedient servant.]

[You are sure to know,] [being a friend of the family]

[It is not (the case)/Not] [that I missed the train.]

[It is not/Not] [as if I mind not being invited.]

[How comes it/How come] [that Charles left so suddenly?]


  1. A local focus of the scriptum may be backgrounded as scriptive residue by end display.  The communicative structure is: Sentence [Topos, scriptum, scriptive residue]


[Let us all] [meet tomorrow,] [possibly in the morning.]

[She answered the question quickly and clearly,] [if a little impatiently.]

[It was a nice meal,] [if a little expensive.]

[He was completely exhausted,] [by the time he arrived.]

[She answered the question all right,] [and quickly enough.]



1.4            English Sentence Sequences and Phrases: Analogues


            If the sentence formation has two aspects, namely, a cognitive structure and a communicative structure, so have the unit of the next higher rank, the sentence sequence, and the unit of the next lower rank, the phrase.  Notice that we see no reason to recognize a rank, that is intermediate between the sentence and the phrase, namely, the clause.  The so-called dependent clause, or clause proper, is no more than a phrase built around a finite verb.  The so-called independent clause, or clause proper, is no more than a phrase built around a finite verb.  The so-called independent clause is no more than a sentence within a sentence sequence.  There is no difference, rank-wise, between the following:


(a)    I came.  I saw.  I conquered.

(b)    I came; I saw; I conquered.

(c)    I came; and then I saw; and lastly I conquered.


Communicatively, of course, and therefore rhetorically, (a) and (c) are weaker than (b); but that is another matter.


            Earlier, allusions have been made to the cognitive structure of the phrase (1.2, closing portion), the communicative structure of the phrase (1.33, addition 3) and the communicative structure of the sentence sequence (1.3.2, amendment 5 and closing portion.)


            The cognitive structure of the phrase consists of a nucleus and margins of different kinds – amplificatory adjuncts (‘red’ in ‘red wine’), elucidatory conjuncts (‘Queen’ in ‘Queen Elizabeth’), complementary subjects (‘of England’ in ‘Queen of England’, ‘his salt’ in ‘worth his salt’), and disjuncts (‘and philosopher’ in ‘friend and philosopher’, ‘and butter’).  A disjunct is of course not quite a margin.  A nucleus with disjunct(s) constitutes a composite phrase.


            The communicative structure of the phrase consists of a local focus with pre-focal and post-focal residue (as in ‘the present queen of England’, ‘a hard nut to crack’, ‘cleverly hides his defect’).  It is open to shifts: compare ‘a hard not to crack’ to ‘a nut hard to crack’ – the latter being unmarked.


            Phrases convey notion networks and not message networks (unless they stand as sentences).  Their cognitive contribution to sentences consist in their reference-claims and their communicative contribution to sentences consist of their felicity-claims.


            Sentence sequences are, as one might expect, more loose-knit than sentences in their internal structure.  They are also less versatile than sentences in their tie-up with alternate specific matters-in-hand (how often can one find the occasion to say ‘I came,; I saw; I conquered’?) or alternative specific situations-at-hand (consider The Kind died.  The Queen died.’  in comparison with ‘The King died.  The Queen’s death followed’, the former fits into a chronicle, but the latter into a history).


            The cognitive structure of a sentence sequence consists of a more or less loose-knit message network.  He matter-in-hand will be held together either as a depiction or as a narration with or without embedded or inserted detail and speech-stretches.


            The communicative structure of a sentence sequence of a more or less lose-knit communicative episode is made up of communicative acts.  The acts will be held together in the situation-at-hand, either as a dialogue or as a monologue with or without diversions and interruptions.  (Digressions are a special sort of diversion.)  The monologue of course may be an interior monologue.


            Sentences contribute to the cohesions and the transitions that go into the feasibility of a sentence sequence. Further, sentences may, in certain sentence sequences, contribute to the feasibility of that sentence sequence through collectively pointing towards a collective topos consisting of shared underlying presuppositions and concepts, phantasies and pictorial or storied concretions, and such.  Such a topos may be made partially explicit through opening or closing moves, or may be implicit throughout the sequence or may remain tacit.  Again, sentences contribute to the worthwhileness of a sentence sequenced by virtue of their cognitive claims (validity, fulfilment, appropriateness) and suasion claims.


2          The Communicative Orientations of English Sentences


2.1       The Notional Interpretations Sought


            The communicator seeks to convey certain notional forms in the formulation of the message.  The addressee looks for certain notional forms in the interpretation of that message.


            The message of a sentence has cognitive worthwhileness that consists in its validity, fulfilment, or appropriateness as the case may be.  But the message of a sentence also has a communicative worthwhileness that consists in its suasion.


            The notional forms accordingly also have a communicative element contributing to suasion.


            Suasion is essentially global, and its global scope is the communicative act, statement or mand or language rite as the case may be.  The message, accordingly, has some specific orientation to the communicative transaction together with the situation-at-hand into which the transaction fits.  specifically –


1.      The message related to the context (inclusive of the contextual elements).  It may either emphatically effect a closure to the transaction or un-emphatically effect an overture promising or eliciting some continuation.  In other words, it may be Conclusive or Inconclusive.


2.      The message relates to the act itself.  It may either emphatically convey keenness about the act or unemphatically convey casualness or perfunctoriness about the act.  In other words, it may be Insistent or Reticent.


3.      The message relates to the communicator.  It may either emphatically convey commitment, excitement or the like about the matter-in-hand or unemphatically convey non-commitment, non-excitement or the like the matter-in-hand.  In other words, it may be Involved or Disengaged, unless it is neutral.


4.      The message relates to the addressee.  It may either emphatically convey warning, impatience, defiance or the like towards the addressee.  In other words, it may be Aggressive or Conciliatory, unless it is neutral.


            Notice how the first two orientations admit of a two-way distinction while the remaining two orientation admit of a three-way distinction. 


            But then a phrase within the sentence contributes towards the global cognitive worthwhileness by virtue of the local reference-claim.  And it also contributes towards the global communicative worthwhileness by virtue of the local felicity-claim.  Specifically –


1.      The phrase relates to the range of application.  It may either emphatically convey contrast with the excluded alternate or unemphatically underplay such a contrast.  In other words, it may be Exclusive or Inclusive, unless it is neutral.


2.      The phrase related to the definition being applied.  It may either emphatically convey an application with full force or unemphatically underplay such an application with full force.  In other words, it may be Intensive or Mitigative, unless it is neutral.


            Notice how both the local orientation admit of a three-way distinction.


            We noticed earlier (at 1.1.4 end) how communicative functions are open to displacement in interpretation.  Likewise but more sparingly, communicative orientations are open to displacement in interpretation.  Thus, ironic overstatement may turn the overtly Intensive-Involved into Mitigative-Involved (‘Splendid!’ meaning terrible). The Englishman’s understatement may turn the overtly Mitigative into Intensive (‘Rather!’ or ‘Not bad, eh?’), and his suppressed expressivity may turn the overtly Reticent-Aggressive into Insistent-Aggressive (‘The rat!’ in suppressed anger), and so on.  Notice how the additives Involved and Aggressive help the triggering of the displacement in interpretation.


            The notional forms so identified of course need to be joined to the speech forms before they could be illustrated.


2.2       The Spoken Manifestations Available


            The communicator renders certain speech forms in the course of the manifestation of a formulated message.  The addressee recognizes certain speech forms in the course of the manifestation of that formulated message.


            The interlocutors have at their disposal a whole repertory of speech form devices.  Specifically –


1.       The prosodic apparatus consisting of prosodic domains, junctures, accents, accent-modifiers, tones, and tone-modifiers.

2.       The overt order of the speech forms relative to the cognitive and the communicative structure of the sentence.

3.       The lexical apparatus consisting of the selection of specific forms or kinds of forms.


All the three contribute  to the communicative aspect of the message.


2.2.1    The Prosodic Apparatus


            A speech stretch in English is the maximal domain bounded by silence at the start and by silence or interruption at the close.  Interruption is of course either an accident like coughing, a departure from the norm like sobbing, or somebody else butting in and will be ignored here.  A speech stretch consists of one or more breath groups.  A breath group consists of one or more tone groups.  A tone group consists of one or more accent groups.  An accent group consists of one or more prominence groups.  A prominence group consist of one or more syllables.  A syllable consists of one or more speech segments.  A speech segments has speech features, distinguishing and separating it from other speech segments.


            Unless there is good reason, the unmarked correspondence between speech domains and nodal and notional domains is as follows :


            speech stretch  : sentence sequence : text

            breath group: sentence : message network or message

            tone group : phrase : notion network

prominence group : word : notion network


            speech segment

            speech feature


            There is of course no correspondence between the lower and of the speech hierarchy and the nodal hierarchy (word formative) and the notional hierarchy (notion).


            The speech domains that concern us are all demarcated by a juncture at the end and they all culminate in an accent.  Specifically and in descending rank order –


1.      A breath group ends in Sentence-final juncture (marked by a double bar || ) and culminates in a nuclear tone group.


2.      A tone group ends in a Sentence-medial juncture (marked by single bar |  or a higher-ranking juncture and culminates in a Tone group nucleus accent (marked by an asterisk *)


3.      An accent group ends in a Phrase-final juncture (marked by word space) or a higher-ranking juncture and culminates in a Phrase nucleus accent (marked by a raised vertical half stroke ’) or a higher-ranking accent.


4.      A prominence group ends in a Phrase-medial juncture (marked by a hyphen - ) or a higher-ranking juncture and culminates in a Word nucleus accent (marked by a lowered vertical half stroke , ), or a higher-ranking accent unless the prominence group lacks such as culmination.


            The following example constitutes one breath group consisting of three tone groups, the last of which is a non-nuclear or marginal tone group.


I-asked for-his-o*pinion. ||  ‘Sounds ‘more ,like- ,dedi’catory *verses, |he-said.||


            There are altogether seven accent groups and twelve prominence groups.  Four prominence groups lack a culmination, one has two accents in it, and the rest have one accent each.


1.      A Tension-gain (marked by a double underline)

2.      A Tension-loss (marked by a single underline)


            A tone group falls within the scope of a sentence tone.  Specifically -


1.      A low-fall (marked by a single reverse slash \ at the end of the tone group)

2.      A High-fall (marked by double reverse slash \\)

3.      A Prereversed-fall (marked by a slash joined to reverse slash /\)

4.      A Low-rise (marked by a single slash /)

5.      A High-rise (marked by a double slash //)

6.      A Prereversed-rise (marked by a reverse slash joined to slash \/)


            A tone group may also fall within the scope of sentence tone modifier.  Specifically and in descending order –


1.      A Pitch-stretch (marked by a converging meniscus-pair at the  ƒ  start of a tone group)

2.      A Pitch-squeeze (marked by a diverging meniscus-pair )


            The rendering and recognition of the prosodic features can now be set out as follows.  (Note that specifications of pitch, loudness, duration, tempo, or tension have a reference to the normal levels as rendered and recognized by the interlocutors and to the rank of the prosodic feature that has already been noted in the enumerations.)


            Junctures rank as: 1. Sentence-final, 2. Sentence-medial,  3. Phrase-final, 4. Phrase-medial.  They are manifested by a valley of loudness (rank 1, 2, 3) or prominence (rank 4); the progressive loss of tempo in the immediately preceding syllables. (The higher the rank the greater the valley depth or the tempo loss.)  Rank1 and 2 junctures may be accompanied by a pause in the abdominal pulse: breath ingressing for 1, breath held or egressing for 2; the higher rank has the longer pause. (A pause is distinct from a spell of silence; for another person to speak will count as an interruption during pause but not during silence.  Pauses are marked by three periods … or two …)


            Accents rank as: 1. Tone group nucleus, 2. Phrase nucleus, 3. Word nucleus.  They are manifested by a wide range of fluctuation in pitch, loudness, duration.  (The higher the rank the wider the range.)  Accents are indirectly manifested by the vowel segment feature (accents fall on ‘full’ vowels, never on ‘reduced’ vowels); by the start or end of accent modifiers; by the start of sentence tones and the progress of sentence tone modifiers.


            Accent modifiers rank as: 1. Tension-gain, 2. Tension-loss.  Tension-gain progress from the start of the prominence group to the end of the culminating syllable and consists in steady tension and loudness gain to a peak at the culminating syllable and in high even pitch ending in quick fall on the culminating syllable.  Tension-loss progresses from the start of the culminating syllable to the end of the prominence group and consists in steady tension and loudness loss from a peak at the culminating syllable and in quick wide-range pitch fall from high at the culminating syllable followed by a low even pitch.  The accent-modifier may also be accompanied by prominence of the syllable end with Tension-gain (b-i-i-g-g, free-ee) and of the syllable start with Tension loss (’eight said with a glottal catch, s-six, r-rat).


            A sentence tone has two features: it may be a fall or a rise in pitch; the fall or rise in pitch may be low or high or reinforced by pre-reversal.  The progress of the tone is over the portion of the tone group from the tone group nucleus to the end.  In setting it out, pith levels to be distinguished are extra-high 4, high 3, mid 2, low 1, extra-low 0; pitch transitions range from slow to quick.


Low-fall: slow narrow-rage pitch fall from mid to low (2 : 1)


High-fall: quick wide-range pitch fall from high to low followed by slow narrow fall from low to extra-low (3 – 1 : 0)


Pre-reversed-fall: extra-quick extra-narrow-range pitch fall to mid followed by quick narrow rise from mid to high followed by slow wide fall from high to low         (2+2-3 : 1)


Low-rise: slow narrow-range pitch rise from low to mid followed by quick narrow rise from mid to high (1: 2  - 3)


High-rise: quick narrow-range pitch rise from mid to high followed by slow narrow rise from high to extra-high (2 –3 : 4)


Pre-reversed-rise: extra-quick extra-narrow-range pitch rise to mid followed by quick narrow fall from mid to low followed by slow wide rise from low to high                (2 – 2.1 : 3)


            The three fall tones close with loudness loss before a sentence-final juncture and with loudness cut-off and quick extra-narrow rise before a sentence-medial juncture. The three rise tones close with loudness cut-off and quick extra-narrow fall before a sentence-final juncture and with loudness cut-off before a sentence-medial juncture.  If the tone group nucleus falls in the scope of an accent modifier, the sentence tone starts before the nucleus ends.


            Sentence tone-modifiers rank as: 1. Pitch-stretch, 2. Pitch-squeeze, with the absence of any modifier in between.  The progress of the tone-modifier is over the portion of the tone group from the start to just before the tone group nucleus, and is defined by the pitch behaviour of each Phrase-nucleus accent occurring before the tone-group nucleus.  It may be set out as follows –

Pitch-stretch:  The pitch range is wide and the pitch transitions are abrupt.  Each phrase-nucleus has slow wide rise from mid to high followed by extra quick narrow fall from high (2 : 33  ) .  (This is the so-called spiky cadence.)


Absence of tone-modifier: The progress depends on the sentence tone.  If it is Low-fall, Low-rise, then each phrase nucleus has even mid.  If it is High-fall, Pre-reverse-fall, then each phrase nucleus has successively higher even pitch fro mid to high (the so-called stepping-up cadence).  If it is High-rise, Pre-reversed-rise, then each phrase nucleus has successively lower even pitch from high to mid (the so-called stepping-down cadence.)  Some speakers, especially Americans, use the mid-even cadence everywhere.


Pitch-squeeze: The pitch range is extra-narrow throughout the tone group, as also the loudness range. (This is the so-called muffled cadence.)  If there is tone concord the pitch range coincides with the last pitch level of the tone that it concords with.


            In all the three cases there is a sharp transition to the tone group nucleus (see Table 1).


            Notice that terms selected for prosodic distinctions are suggestive only.  Sentence-medial, sentence-final, phrase-medial, phrase-final, Phrase nucleus, and Word nucleus are grammatically suggestive. Tension-gain and Tension-loss also involve wide pitch range, syllable balance, and the like.  Low also involves narrow pitch range and High wide pitch range. Rise-fall is seen as a kind of fall and fall-rise a kind of rise – with good reason that will be clear later.


            The prosodic apparatus of English as set out in the present study takes no account of peripheral prosodics such as rapid and slow tempo, high and low pitch register, loud and soft speech volume, abrupt and smooth prosodic transitions.


Table 1: Broad equivalences between the present study, Halliday’s system, and the American system (respectively marked K, H, A)


































Accent modifiers


































4, 13


Tone modifiers







.1,.2,-2, .3,-3

2 2…



3 3…



3 3…

1-, 2, 4, 5



Note : The equivalences can only be broad ones, since distinction in one system may occasionally count as variation in another and variation in one system distinction in another.


2.2.2    The Overt Order of Speech Forms


There is the unmarked overt order in the cognitive structure of sentence:


            [Subject-Agent, Verbal, Theme-Object, Complement, Manner,

              substrate-Tenant, Circumstantial]


            Any displacement within the cognitive structure serves a communicative intent-as with shifting of Tenant before Object, post-verbal or pre-verbal shifting of Manner or Circumstantial.  (Such displacements have already been illustrated in 1.3.2 at (1), (2) and (4a).


            Again, there is the unmarked overt order in the communicative structure of a sentence.


            [Topos, Scriptum]


            Any displacement within the communicative structure serves a communicative intent – as with front or end display of scriptive focus or topical focus, and end display of scriptive residue. (Such displacements have already been illustrated in 1.3.3 at (4) to (8).)


            These displacements tend to be reinforced by the prosodic structure.


2.2.3    The Contribution of the Lexical Apparatus


            The notional forms conveying the communicative orientation of the sentence in a global fashion or of the phrase in a local fashion are sometimes conveyed by lexical forms with or without any reinforcement from the prosodic apparatus or the overt order of speech forms, or both.


            As one has already seen (1.3.2 end), certain lexical forms in the shape of inserted speech make their contribution to the communicative manageability of sentence sequences by serving to maintain the channel, language calibration, cognitive rapport, and communicative rapport.  Inserted speech may also serve communicative orientation.  Thus, ‘I tell you’ or ‘I say’ conveys the Aggressive orientation to the addressee and ‘if I may say so’ the Conciliatory one.


            Along with speech forms as such, come certain speech frames. Thus, the so-called cleft and pseudo-cleft structures are such speech frames (1.3.3 at (5) end):  ‘It is X that P`’ puts the scriptive focus X in front display leaving P` as the residue; likewise ‘wh-P` is X’ puts the scriptive focus X in end display. Note how X-P` conveys the message content of the statement as such.


            Speech forms and speech frames often convey some message content in addition to the communicative orientation.  Thus, ‘happily’ or ‘it is fortunate that P` conveys something more that the communicator’s involvement, while ‘I concede that’ or ‘whatever that may mean’ convey something more than the communicator’s disengagement.


            Indeed, with these the communicative orientation may be incidental to the primary message content. Thus, ‘spread like wildfire’, ‘blind as a bat’, ‘dressed to kill’, ‘swill’ (for ‘drink’), ‘gorge oneself with’ (for ‘eat’) are Intensives, but they are not general-purpose Intensives the way ‘quite’, ‘terribly’, ‘wonderfully’, ‘terrifically’, ‘extra-‘, ‘ultra-‘ are.


            With some of these, more than one communicative notional form may be combined.  Thus, ‘that’s for sure’ not only makes the statement Insistent but also Conclusive on the other hand, ‘don’t you agree?’ or ‘eh?’ combine Insistent with Inconclusive in making an overture by expecting a response from the addressee.


2.3       The Joining of the Two at the Node


            It should be clear by now how the prosodic, the grammatical, and the lexical apparatus operate in concert in conveying the communicative orientation together with the message content. (The serious implications of this insight will not be lost upon language learners and teachers as also upon students and teachers of literature.)  In the present study, however we shall concentrate on the prosodic apparatus.


            The prosodic apparatus is naturally an obligatory component of speech, since any piece of speech has to have its share of loudness, pitch, duration, tension, transitions and so forth. In this respect, prosodic apparatus is more like grammatical apparatus than like lexical apparatus.  While not every sentence will have lexical manifestation of its communicative orientation, every sentence will have an obligatory component of communicative structure, of communicative functions (kinds of statements, mand, language rite), and of contextual communicative orientation (Conclusive/Inconclusive, Insistent/Reticent).  What needs to be set out is the three-way correlation between prosodic speech forms on one side, communicative orientation notional forms on the other side, and the communicative formation of the sentence at the sign node in the middle.  There is no simple unidirectional predictability, such as –


            If a statement, then a fall tone.

            If a question, then a rise tone.

            If a sentence-final juncture, then a sentence end.

            If a sentence-medial juncture, then a sentence medial.

            If a tone group nucleus, then a scriptive or topical focus.


These are at best first approximations, but not very good ones at that.


            Commutation between prosodic forms is often available.

            I’m surprised. || They-aren’t ready-to go yet, | he-said. ||

            I’m surprised, | they-aren’t ready-to go yet,| he said. ||

            A-pretty, | intelligent daughter. ||

            A-pretty intelligent daughter. ||

            He- `row-ed ,down-the-*river. ||

            He- `rode ,down-the-*road. ||

            `He’s-a *bald-,head. || (He is…)

            `He’s-a *bald `head.|| (He has…)

            `He’s-a `bald *head.|| (He has…)

            He-has-`made a-*silly `mistake. || (More than merely silly, indeed atrocious.)

            He-`hasn’t-, made a-*silly `mistake. (At least not atrocious, possibly none at all.)

            He-has-`made a-*clerical `error.||  (At least not a clerical error, possibly a non-clerical one.)

            *Tell-,me a,bout-your-`friend.\ || (Closure.)

            *Tell-,me a,bout-your-`friend. /|| (Overture.)


            Commutation between communicative structures and orientations is often available.  (The last pair of examples can also serve to show commutation between the two orientations to context, namely, Conclusive and Inconclusive.)


            (What happened?) The-thief got-a *way. [Scriptum]

            (What about the thief ?) The-*thief| got-a*way.|| [Topos, Scriptum]

            I’d-`like-to-,have a-,boiled-`egg for-*breakfast.  [Scriptum [Scriptive focus [would like to have a boiled egg for breakfast|||

I’d-`like-to-,have a-,boiled-`egg for-`breakfast.  [Scriptum [Scriptive focus [a boiled egg]]]


ƒ   `Why `don’t-you ,make-`up your-*mind? //|| (Aggressive, Insistent)

‘Why `don’t-you ,make-`up your-*mind? //|| (neutral to addressee, Insistent)

‘Why `don’t-you ,make-`up your-*mind? //|| (neutral to addressee, Reticent)


            The joining of speech forms on the one hand and features of communicative structure or notional form of communicative orientation on the other can now be set out.


            1.            nuclear tone group : Scriptum, as in:

                        Our cause| has suffered from misrepresentation.||


            2.            pre-nuclear tone group : Tops : Inconclusive

                        Our cause | has suffered from misrepresentation.||

                        As for our cause | it has suffered from misrepresentation.||


3.         post-nuclear tone group in tone concord with Pitch-squeeze : scriptive residue after Scriptive focus, as in:

                        Our cause has suffered | from misrepresentation.||


                        Note: Here and elsewhere, tone concord is concord with the tone of the nuclear tone group.


            3a.            post-nuclear tone group in tone concord : topos in end display, as in :

                        It occurred to me | that he might be ill.||


4.         Pre-nuclear tone group in tone concord : scriptive residue before Scriptive focus, as in:

                        Our cause has suffered | from misrepresentation.||


5.         Tone group nucleus at the last available phrase nucleus : Scriptive focus on the predicate residue as a whole, as in:

                        Charles would like to have a boiled egg for *breakfast.||

                        Likewise, with Topical focus on the topos as a whole.


6.         Tone group nucleus at an other-than-last-available local focus: Scriptive focus on the local focus selected for good reason, as in:

                        Charles would like to have a-boiled-*egg for-`breakfast.||

                        Charles would-*like-to-have a-boiled-`egg for-`breakfast.||

                        *Charles would-`like-to-have a-boiled-`egg for-`breakfast.||

                        Likewise, with Topical focus on an other-than-last-available local focus.

                        Note: Aux or verb in demands or wishes, focus of a focal question or exclamation typically attract the tone group nucleus.


7.         Tone group nucleus in a non-nuclear tone group: scriptive residue with a local focus either the last available one or the one selected with good reason, as in:

                        Our cause has *suffered | from misrepresentation.||

                        Our *cause has suffered | from misrepresentation.||


8.         Phrase nucleus in an accent group within a tone group: available local focus: focus of message content, namely, Subject, Verbal, Theme, Complement, Substrate, Manner, Circumstantial, unless it is demoted for a good reason, namely, of having low message content, being a position holder or already-shared-reference-claim or readily inferable reference-claim:

                        `Charles tor`mented his-`wife a-*lot | as-she-did-to-*him.||

                        `Charles has-,gone-a`way in-the--*meanwhile.||


9.         Phrase nucleus within an accent group: either the last available one or the one selected with good reason, as in:

                        From-con`tinued mis-repre,sentation by-*news-,papers.||

                        From-con`tinued *mis-repre,sentation by-`news-,papers.||

                        From-con*tinued `mis-repre,sentation by-`news-,papers.||


10.       The culmination of a word is located lexically in English.  Unless that syllable has been assigned a tone group nucleus or a phrase nucleus, it will stay with a word nucleus unless there is a good reason for its promotion to a phrase nucleus or demotion to accentless status, as in:

                        The-`man in-the-`street is-my-*brother.|| (‘man’ promoted; a blood relation)

                        The-,man-in-the-`street is-my-*brother.|| (‘man’ remains a word nucleus; idiomatic use)

                        `That-is a-*good-one!|| (‘one’ demoted)

                        `Charles is-*one-of-them. (‘them’ demoted)

                        `Nobody-is *perfect.||

                        `Every-,body-is *im-,perfect.||

                        Notice how ‘the’, ‘is’, ‘in’, ‘my’, and the like usually stand demoted.


11.       Local focus (Word-nucleus, Phrase-nucleus, Tone-nucleus, as the case may be) within a prominence group with Tension-gain : a word or a word formative : Intensive, as in:


                        His-`talent is-*extra-,ordinary.||

                        An-im`mense-,palace `dominates the-*plaza.||

                        There-was-`only a-mi,nute-im*provement.||


12.              Local focus (Word-nucleus, Phrase-nucleus, Tone-nucleus, as the case may be) within a prominence group with Tension-loss : a word or a word formative : Exclusive, as in:

The-`error is-`merely *clerical.||


                        ,But-*why `should-he ,do a-`thing-,like-that?|| (Also with: *why- on-,earth, ,why-on-*earth, ,*why-ever)

                        *Where `did-he `go?||

                        *Did-he `tell-you-so?||

                        He-*did-go-a, way.||

                        He-did-*not-go-a, way.|| (Also with: *didn’t)

                        `Well, `look ,who-is-*here.||

                        *What an-I`dea!|| (Also with: *Such)


                        `Boys ,will-be-*boys!||


13.       nuclear tone group with fall tone : typically, factive/exclamatory Statement, mandatory/exclamatory Mand, focal question, exclamatory Language rite, closure-effecting performative Language rite : Conclusive.


14.       nuclear tone group with rise tone : typically, persuasive Statement/Mand, global question, overture-effecting performative Language rite: Inconclusive, as in:

            `You-could `always *try-it.\|| (Closure)

            `You-could `always *try-it./|| (Overture)

            *Tell-,me a,bout-your-`friend.\|| (Closure, non-negotiable Mand.)

            *Tell-,me a,bout-your-`friend./|| (Overture, negotiable Mand.)


15.       nuclear tone group with high or pre-reversed rise or pre-nuclear tone group with pre-reversed rise : scriptum or pre-nuclear Topos : Insistent

            `You-could `always *try-it.\/|| (Persuassive statement)

            *Tell-,me a,bout-your-`friend.\\|| (Command, exhortation, entreaty that wouldn’t take a no for a answer.)

            `Since you-`care-,so-much for-your-*friend \/| *tell-,me-a,bout-him/||


            `As-for-me\/| ,I’m-,going-*out\\ (Topos)

            Note: Consider the last two examples in the light of 1.3.3 (6).


16.              nuclear tone group with low tone : Scriptum : Reticent

*Tell-,me a,bout-your-`friend./|| (Instruction, suggestion, casual request.)


17.              nuclear tone grop with pre-reversed fall : Scriptum : Involved We-`all ‘stood *so `terrified! /\|| (Exclamatory statement)

*Tell-,me a,bout-your-`friend! /\|| (Closure, the communicator lets the addressee know that he will be quite disappointed if there is no fulfillment.)

`Charles *tormented his-`wife a-`lot! /\|| (I feel very much about it.)

Notice how the rise-fall can spread over a stretch.


18.              nuclear tone group with pre-reversed rise : Scriptum : Disengaged.

`You-can `go if-you-*like. \/||

You-*can-,go if-you-`like.\/||

I-*told-you `so!\/||

Notice how the fall-rise can spread over a stretch in the last two examples.


19.              nuclear tone group with Pitch-stretch: Scriptum: Aggressive, as in:

ƒ    *Why `don’t-you ,make-`up your-`mind? //|| (Aggressive)


20.              nuclear tone group with Pitch-squeeze : Scriptum : Conciliatory, as in:

    ,Just-`sign on-the-*dotted-,line /|| (Conciliatory)

    ,Miss-*Jones,/| `this-is ,Mister-*Smith.\|| (Routinely)



Table 2: Correspondences between Notional forms of communicative orientation and Speech forms of the prosodic apparatus


In nuclear tone groups of Scriptum

Orientation to Context




Orientation to Communicative Act




Orientation to Communicator




Orientation to Addressee




In pre-nuclear tone groups of Scriptive Residue

In tone concord with Scriptive Focus

In post-nuclear tone groups of Scriptive Residue

In tone concord with Scriptive Focus with Pitch squeeze

In pre-nuclear tone groups of Topos




In scriptive/topical/local focus

Orientation to Range




Orientation to Definition






Fall tones

Rise tones



non-Low tones

Low tones



Pre-reversed Fall tone

Pre-reversed Rise tone



Pitch Stretch

Pitch squeeze







Pre-reversed Rise tone

Low Rise tone




Tension loss




Tension gain


 Note : One might argue that Involved is necessarily Conclusive and Disengaged and pre-nuclear topos

  are necessarily Inconclusive.


            There is a peripheral aspect of spoken manifestation that is best taken up at this point, namely, conflation and difflation. Broadly speaking, in conflation speech domains tend to collapse into domains of a higher rank or even the same rank under certain conditions; in difflation, speech domains tend to dissolve into domains of a lower rank or even the same rank under certain conditions.  Thus, the sequence of call a followed by a focal question—

            *Mother./|| `What are-we-`having for-*dinner?\||

            quite naturally conflates into—

            `What are-we-`having for-*dinner,\| *mother?/||

or even –

            `What are-we-`having for`*diner,\|    *mother?\||

            But the following sequence of a local question followed by a global question –

            `What are-we-`having for-*dinner,\||*Beef?/||

just cannot conflate into, say-

            `What are-we-`having for-*dinner,\| *beef/||


Again, turning to difflation, the sentence—


            Our-`cause has-`suffered be,cause-of-`mis,represen,tation by-*news-papers.\\||

quite naturally successive deflates into –

            Our-*cause/| has-*suffered\\| be,cause-of-`mis,represen,tation by-*news-,papers.\\||

            Our-*cause/| has-*suffered\\| be,cause-of-*mis-,representation\\| by-*news-,papers.\\||


            As can be seen, conflation and difflation concurrently involve various adjustments about junctures and other prosodic features. For instance, tone concord.


            What are the conditions which conflation is admissible? Words of low message content, present as position-holders, already-shared or readily inferable reference-claims, or the like not only loss on prominence but also often lose on juncture separation.  Inserted speech of maintenance of channel or language calibration or cognitive rapport or communicative rapport; calls, exclamations, performative rites, attached statements (yes, no, impossible) and attached questions often lose on juncture separation.  (Losing on prominence leads not only to accent of lower rank but sometimes also to vowel reduction or vowel loss.  Losing on juncture separation leads not only to juncture of lower rank but sometimes also to realignment, as with ‘she-however|’ ‘is-a’ or ‘not-a-tall’ or ‘upon’ or to juncture loss, as with ‘nota-tall’ or ‘gotcha’ or ‘gonna’ or ‘usedto’.)  Another important condition is raising of tempo.  Rapid tempo is associated with crowding of the attention span, informality, and hurry; the use of attenuated forms (’s-`cool, he-`s-); and overlooking of certain speech distinctions (like rose, row-s)


            What are the conditions under which difflation is admissible?  The important condition is lowering of tempo.  Slow tempo is associated with fuller attention to detail, formality, gaining of time (`er`, `ahem`), deliberation, hesitation, suppressed aggression, tender involvement, and the insertion of pauses.  Since difflation secures fuller attention, it is associated with lengthy phrases and sentences, enumerations, deliberation, and structural splits (scriptive focus and residue or topical focus and residue in separation and front or end display.)


            There is a special kind of difflation associated with `dictation-speed`, very often with pauses or silences.

            *He/| *has/| *an/| *office/| *in/| *that/| *building.\\||


            Again, the auditory effect of Aggressive Pitch-stretch often, comes close to difflation of this kind when there are no pauses or silences.


            Conflation and difflation may yield more possibilities of commutation.


            The-`next-,word is-a-,noun-of-*Latin-`origin.\\|| [Scriptum]

            The-*next-,word/|is-a-,noun-of-*Latin-,origin.\\|| [Topos, Scriptum]

            The-`next-,word is-a-*noun\\| of-*Latin-,origin.\\|| [Scriptive-residue, scriptive focus]

            The-`next-,word is-a-*noun\\| of-*Latin-,origin.\\|| [Scriptive focus, Scriptive residue]

            The-*next-,word\\| is-a-*noun\\|of-*Latin-,origin.\\|| [Scriptum-in-difflation]


            English speech rhythm has tendency, no more, to let the accents, especially the higher-ranking ones (the tone group nucleus and the phrase nucleus) appear at equal time intervals; concurrently, there is a tendency to avoid a string of accented syllables or a string of unaccented syllables. This leads to manoeuvres comparable to difflation and conflation.  Examples follow. The pairs separated by colon show the state before and after such a manoeuvre.


            ,U-,S.-`A : U.-S.-`a (conflation-like)

            ,R.-,S.-,V.-`P, : ,R.-S.-V.-`P. (conflation-like)

            ,three-,clean-`towels : ,three-clean-`towels OR three-`clean-,towels

            thir,teen-`guests: ,thirteen-`guests (compare: thir,teen-in-`number)

            `Storm `strikes `York first : `Storm strikes-*York-,first

            Ber,lin-`Wall : ,Berlin-`Wall

            ,chim,pan`zee : ,chimpan`zee OR chim`panzee

            dedi`catory : ,dedi`catory (difflation-like)

            presen`tation : ,presen`tation (difflation-like)

            represen`tation : ,represen`tation (difflation-like)


            At a more subtle level, with strings of full vowel syllables, the end of the prior syllable is filled out. (The raised dot marks slight prolongation of the preceding speech segment.)


            In˙`tern (verb), `in˙tern (noun)

            oֹ`bese, `eֹpoch, `iֹssue (noun, verb), oֹ`zone, `baֹnish

            three full vowels in sequence: ,chimֹpanֹ`zee OR chimֹ`panֹzee,

osֹ`moֹsis, `obֹfuxֹcate, ,obֹfusֹ`cation


Notice that this rule applies regardless of the placement of accents.  The filling out acts as a cushion between successive full vowels, so to say.


The linguistic analysis, in a sense, comes to a close here. It is to he hoped that it is, broadly speaking, both consistent and complete, and has a reasonably favourable cost-revenue ratio, give or take a few rough edges or loose ends.  The next section endeavours to show how certain apparent problem areas can be handled within the framework of this analysis without any major revision.  This should indicate how the framework can yield bonus insights.



2.4       The Handling of Certain Problem Areas

2.4.1    The Handling of Questions: An Extrapolation


            We have all along treated questions as mands of a special kind.  A question is a mand in that it makes a claim to fulfillment.  The fulfillment: of a question consists in the eliciting of an adequate answer and thus meeting a claim on the speaker’s part. The claim may proceed from the speaker’s wonderment or his felt right to an answer, and it may be addressed to large or to a specific person.  Like any other mand, a question may be mandatory or merely persuasive.


            Questions are mands of a special kind just as certain statements are statements of a special kind.  Ordinary statements and ordinary mands are about reality, which is their mater-in-hand.


            The hill is rounded. (Reality statement)

            Make the hill flat. (Reality mand)

Special statements and special mands (that is, question) are about observations of or on reality or about claims on or from reality.


            That the earth is flat is false. (Observation statement)


            To say that the earth is round is reasonable (Observation statement)


            The wish that Mt. Everest be climbed stands fulfilled. (Claim statement)


            The demand that the forest be cleared is unreasonable. (Claim statement)


            Is the earth flat? (Observation question)


            Is the hill rounded or not rounded? (Observation question)


            Can the earth be round? (Observation question)


            Must the earth be round? (Observation question)


Must we flatten the hill? (Claim question)


May we clear the forest? (Claim question)

Adequate answers to such observation questions or claim questions can be ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ or ‘Can’t say’.


            We have assumed so for that we are dealing with global questions.  Focal questions do not elicit ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ as wholly adequate answers.  Examples of focal questions follow.


            Is-the-`earth *flat?/? – No, it is round.

            Is-the `earth *flat/| `or *round?|| - It is round.

            `Must-we `flatten the-*hill? – Yes, nothing less.

            What shape is the hill? – It is rounded.

            What may we do with the forest? – You can bypass it.


            Notice how focal questions need not always be wh-questions; and how alternative questions need not always be global questions.  Notice also the use of Tension-loss for the focus, which may or may not be the tone group nucleus.


            Note how special statements and mands of this kind are all closely connected with positive and negative polarity and with ‘can’t say’ situations of doubt or ignorance or confidentiality.


            Pre-reversed fall and pre-reversed rise tone are associated with communicative orientation to the communicator – Involved and Disengaged.  But then these complex tones rise-fall and fall-rise can also be associated with combinations of Conclusive (closure of polarity) and Inconclusive (overture of polarity, ‘can’t say’ situation of doubt) in the following way –


(1)            Pre-reversed fall over nuclear tone group : statement or mand : Inconclusive-to-Conclusive (you better change your mind from bout to certainty)

`That’s-`all that-there-`is *to-it./\||

*Don’t-,you ,hold-`back the-`truth!/\||

(Both addressed to somebody wondering in the direction of the opposite polarity; 2-3:1 cadence)


(2)            Pre-reversed fall with Pitch-squeeze over nuclear tone-group : statement or mand : Inconclusive-to-Conclusive with Conciliatory (I’ve changed my mind from doubt to certainty)

   *Wonderful i`deal/\|   `Anne *will-be `pleased!/\||

   *Don’t `take my-`criticism to-`heart!/\||

(These may reflect second thoughts, reluctant acquiescence or the like; 1.2:1 cadence)


(3)            Pre-reversed rise over nuclear tone group : statement or mand : Conclusive-to-Inconclusive (I’ve changed my mind from certainty to doubt)

`Looks-like it’s-a-a*bit of-a-`risk. \/||

*Let-him ,take-`up that-`job for-the-`present. \/||

Comparable to examples at 2; 2.1 : 3 cadence)


(4)            Pre-reversed rise with Pitch-squeeze over nuclear tone group : statement or mand : Conclusive-to-Inconclusive with Conciliatory (you should change your mind from certainty to doubt)

   I-*told-you-so! \/|| (Not gloating over it.)

   You-~better-not *do-any- such-thing.\/|| (Friendly)

(Comparable to examples at 1; 3.2:3 cadence)



            A Scriptum in the shape of a question will tend to be Conclusive if focal, Inconclusive if global. It will be Conclusive if the speaker is not ready to accept a ‘can’t say’ answer. If it is a alternative question, the last alternative will be Conclusive if no fresh alternative answer will be acceptable as adequate, but Inconclusive if a fresh alternative will be acceptable as adequate.


            A Scriptive residue in the shape of an attached global question of the opposite polarity to the preceding statement will be Reticent.  Further, it will be Conclusive, if the speaker is sure of the statement, but Inconclusive, if the speaker isn’t so sure.


            `Peter’s *here, \\|   *isn’t-he?\\||

            `Peter’s * here,\| *isn’t-he?/||

            `Peter *isn’t-,here,\\ *is-he\\||

            `Peter *isn’t-,here, \\| *is-he?/||


            In very informal use, the attached global question in the fourth case is ellipsed leading to an ambiguity.  The addressee may say, ‘Are you telling me or asking me?’  or the original speaker may have to clarify as to whether he is telling or asking.


            A scriptive global question in response to an explicit or tacit topos in the shape of a report or surmise of the same polarity will be Conclusive and Reticent if the speaker is surprised but acquiescent, but Inconclusive and Insistent if the speaker is surprised and not acquiescent.  (The report or surmise eliciting the comment is placed in parentheses.)


(I’m looking for a job.)  You-*are?\|| OR  *Are-You?\||  OR  *Reality?\||

(I am looking for a job.)  You-*are>//||  OR Are-*you//||  OR *Really?//||

(I’am not looking for a job.)  You-*aren’t?\||  OR *Aren’t-you?\||  OR  *Really?\||

(I’m not looking for a job.)  You-*aren’t?//||  OR Aren’t-*you//||  OR  *Really?//||


The response Really?` can be replaced by ‘Is-that-so?’  OR *So?’ by ‘I-*see?’  and the tone can be replaced by a pre-reversed Involved or Disengaged as the case may be.


            A scriptive global or focal question in a favourable response to an explicit or tacit topos in the shape of comment or surmise of the opposite polarity will be Reticent and Conclusive if the report or surmise is readily available to the addressee, but Insistent and Conclusive if it isn’t, calling for a fuller version of the question.  (The report or surmise eliciting the comment is placed in parentheses.)


(Peter’s really clever!) *Isn’t-he?\||

(Peter’s really clever!) `Isn’t `Peter *really `clever?\\||

(Nobody will blame him!) ,Will-*anybody?\||  OR  *Who-,will?\||

(Nobody will blame him!)  ,Will-*anybody `blame-him?\\||  OR  *Who- ,will `blame-him?\\||

(Everybody will blame him!) ,Won’t- *everybody?\||  OR  *Who-,won’t?\||

(Everybody will blame him!)  ,Won’t *everybody `blame-him?\\||  OR *Who-,won’t `blame-him?\\||


            If the speaker so feels, Involved will replace Insistent.  The fuller version, whether Insistent or Involved, is the so-called rhetorical question.


            The use of opposite polarity for a supportive question here and in the attached global question is presumably the verbal equivalent of throwing down the gauntlet.  (If the addressee dares to pick it up, even the on-lookers don’t applaud the spoilsport!)


            A scriptive focal question in response to an explicit or tacit topos in the shape of another person’s speech, which the questioner proceeds to embed, will be Inconclusive and Insistent. These so-called echo questions are special cases of the abbreviated focal questions we have seen earlier.


            `What are-we-`having for-*dinner?||*Beef?||

            `Have-you ,got-a-a*match?|| OR  Got-a-*match?||  OR  :  A-*match?||


What is special about them is that they are questions about somebody’s outer speech. What moves the questioner is either a failure to hear that speech properly or a failure to relate it properly to the mater-in-hand or the situation-at-hand.


(The earth is flat.)  `Are-you-,saying ,that-the- `earth is- *flat?//||  OR :  ,That-the-`earth is-flat?//||


(The earth is flat.)  `Are-you-,saying,/| ‘The-`earth is-*flat’?//||  OR  :  ‘The-`earth is-*flat’?//||


(Keep quiet about it.)  `Are-you-,asking-me to-,keep-*quiet-a,bout-it?//  OR  : For-,me to- ,keep-*quiet-a,bout-it?//||


(Keep quiet about it.)  `Are-you-saying,/ ,Keep-*quiet-a,bout-it?//  OR  :  For-,me to- ,keep-*quiet-a,bout-it?//||


(Where can I find a good job?)  `Are-you-asking-me `where you-,could-`find a-,good-*job?//  OR  :  `Where you-,could-`find a-,good-*job?//||


(Where can I find a good job?)  `Are-you-,saying,/| `Where ,can-I-`find a-,good-*job?`?//  OR  : `Where can-I-`find a-,good-*job?`?//||  (Notice the punctuation suggestive of the cognitive as well as the communicative state of affairs.)


            If there are echo-questions, there are echo-exclamatory-mands no less.

            (I’m looking for a job.)  `Image/ `Fancy your-`saying,/|

            `I’m-`looking for-a-*job’!//\||  OR  :  I’m-`looking for-a-*job!’/\| In*deed/\|

            (‘Indeed!’ is here a tone-concording post-nuclear scriptive residue.)


            Notice how all these cases of embedded outer speech, reported or direct as the case may be, are actually nominal phrase and not sentences in their own right at all!


2.4.2    The Handling of Variations : An Extrapolation


            There are undoubtedly variations even among native users of English in their prosodic practices both as speakers and as listeners.  Can such differences in practice lead to prosodic miscomprehension or incomprehension?  (I thought you were asking me!  Are you asking me or telling me?)  And can all such failed comprehension be traceable to homophonies or polysemies latent in the prosodic apparatus?  Or are there sufficient divergences in prosodic practice to account of such failures?  Or are there divergences as to the prosodic apparatus itself?  Divergences in practice will occasionally amount to stylistic divergences.  Divergences in apparatus will occasionally amount to differences between individuals or between groups (Black American speech or Teenager speech) or between regions (General American or Yorkshire or English speech.)  What we propose to do here is to suggest ways in which the present analytic apparatus can help sorting these maters for a better understanding of English prosodic practice.


            Before we proceed further, a few supplementary observations will be appropriate.


(1)        Clearly not all features of the communicative structure, the communicative orientation, and the prosodic apparatus are equally central to the language.  Some are more central, more routine matters; others are used only if the occasion so demands and so peripheral in the apparatus as one might say.


            Thus, in respect of the communicative structure, the Topos-Scriptum division and its tie-up with the cognitive structure is more central; the end display of topical focus or scriptive residue less central; and the front and end display of scriptive focus and the front display of the topical focus even less central.


            In respect of the communicative orientation, the orientation to the context (Conclusive/Inconclusive) or the act (Insistent/Reticent) are more central; the orientation to the local focus range (Exclusive/Inclusive and the local focus definition (Intensive/Mitigative) less central; and the orientation to the communicator (Involved/Disengaged) or the addressee (Aggressive/Conciliatory) even less central.


            Finally, in respect of the prosodic apparatus, juncture and accent, the fall and rise tone distinction are more central; accent modifiers, the high-low-prereversed tone distinction are less central; tone modifiers and conflation-difflation processes are even less central.


            The implications of this three-way layering would not be lost upon language learners and language teachers. When it comes to individual, groupwise, and regionwise variations in practice, they are less likely to be found in the more central features, but more likely to be found in the less central variation; paradoxically enough, the fully peripheral features like tempo or loudness, being more nature-made than man-made, will have less room for variation.


(2)        Any analytic apparatus is bound to distinguish between constants and variables and between dependents and independents.  Thus, orientation of the message to the context is a constant, Conclusive/Inconclusive is a range of variables.  Depending on whether Inconclusive combines with a statement or a question, there are dependent variables.  Inconclusive statements have implications or reservations, Inconclusive questions are more persuasive than mandatory. And so on.


            But in actual practice this neatness may give way to probabilities and improbabilities.  Thus, tone may be high/low or wide/narrow, but the distinctive combinations are only two : high-wide and low-narrow.  Orientations to the act, to the communicator, and to the addressee are independent variables in the system : actually, Involved or Aggressive are unlikely to combine with Reticent and Disengaged or Conciliatory with Insistent.


            Again, the dependence of the variable may reach out beyond the system itself.  Thus, a male speaker’s mid may well be on level with a female speaker’s low.  What maters in the system is of course relative pitch levels within the given speaker’s handling of pitch level. An excitable speaker’s narrow may well be on level with an unexcitable speaker’s wide. Again, the given speaker’s handling of pitch range is the constant of reference.


            Obviously, all such considerations have significance for language learning and teaching as well as for the study of speech varieties.


            Coming, say, to differences between British speakers of an English nurture and American speakers of General American nurture, the following observations may be made. The differences are not in the system so much as in the use to which it is put. Specifically –


1.      Americans go for a more ‘emphatic’ style than Englishmen. The former go more for Conclusive (especially for focal questions and statements), Insistent, Involved, Aggressive, Intensive, and Exclusive.  The latter go for Inconclusive, Reticent, Disengaged, Conciliatory, Mitigative, and Inconclusive.


2.      Americans go for a more ‘difflating’ style than Englishmen. The former go more for difflation.  Topos separation from scriptum.  The latter go more for conflation.  Topos union with Scriptum.  (This goes very well the American rendering of forms like ‘secre,tary, ,credi`bili,ty,  ,va`cation, did-he-`not-have in contrast to the Englishmen’s versions like `secretary, ,credi`bility, va`cation, `hadn’t-he.)


3.      Americans go for a less ‘nuanced’ style than Englishmen.  Americans go for fewer alternatives in selecting the neutral tone modifier (mid-even cadence most of the time rather than maintaining the three variants mid-even, stepping-up, and stepping-down cadences) or the various response question types.  Englishmen go for these alternations.


4.      Americans probably prefer the end display of scriptive focus (the pseudo-cleft structure) to the front display of it (the cleft structure); Englishmen, the other way round.


            It will probably be noticed that no allowance has been made in this account for the partial Americanization of British linguistic culture (not of British speech, though).


            It will have been noticed that we have stumbled here upon some contrasting features of Americans’ and Englishmen’s linguistic culture.  This finding compares interestingly with a recent attempt to spell out aspects of Black American culture (Wierzbicka : p.83) :


                        I want/think/feel something now.

                        I want to say it.

                        I want to say it now.


This formulation of the communicative presuppositions of this culture nicely brings out its assertive, self-expressive, ‘spontaneous style.  What H.P. Grice or J.L. Austen have to say about ‘human’ language practices may often tell us more about Englishmen’s language practices!



3.         The Communicative Structures in English Poetry


3.1            Theoretical Preliminaries


            In presenting the cognitive structure of the sentence in its bifocality, we saw that the sentence is both a predicate focus enlarged with a complex of arguments as in Frege’s logic and the kriyā-and-kāraka view of sentences and a subject focus enlarged with a complex predicate as in aristotle’s logic and the uddešya-and-vidheya view of sentences. That was the logical form of language in all its informality.


            In presenting the communicative structure of the sentence in its bipolarity, we saw that the sentence as a statement proposes fitting the scriptum, sādhya to the topos, siddha and as a mand proposes activating the topos, sādhana to implement the scriptum, sādhya. That was the rhetorical form of language in all its non-partisan even-handedness.


            In presenting the prosodic structure of the sentence with its rhythm embodied I juncture, accent, and their timing and its melody embodied in accent modification, tone, tone modification, and their timing, we saw the musical form of language in all its spokenness.


            It is time that we relate these to the artistic form of language in all its poeticness.  If practitioners of poetics often fail to do justice to the linguistic aspect of poetry, practitioners of linguistics often fail to do justice to the poetic aspect of language (earning a bad name for their discipline among students of poetry).


            What is art?  Man makes himself at home in the world by coping with it and understanding it therefore.  As soon as this engagement with the world on the part of man moves beyond a hand-to-mouth existence, it takes either of two-forms-the form of art, šilpa/kalā and the form of science, šāstra/vidyā.  Art operates with imagined form, intuition, concretion from raw existence, transcendence of what there obviously is, sense of tact or finesse, guestimate- perhaps one can add up, art operates with imagined from, reason, abstraction from raw existence, acceptance of what there obviously is, rule-conformity or   géometric, measurement-perhaps one can add up, science operates with the newer left-brain. (Finesse in Blaise Pascal’s French sense means not only delicate skill but also shrewdness.)  The pursuit of art culminates in Art with a capital A; the pursuit of science culminates in science with a capital S.  What is Art with a capital A then?  Just as a strategic entry point into Language is a sentence, so is an Art work or object or performance a strategic entry point into Art. 


            How does a work of art exist at all?  What is it made of?  A work of art exists at two levels – at the level of material and at the level of medium. Thus, a painting can be thought of as pigments mixed with oil smeared onto a stretched piece of canvas – one can speak of the production or purchase or insurance against fire or theft of that piece. But then not every paint-daubed canvas piece is a painting, paint and canvas are not the medium of painting – at best they constitute the vehicle material of painting.  A painting can also be thought of as made out of its content material or experiential material. The question, what does the painting show? What is it about?, can be meaningfully asked about any painting, even when it is not representational.  Again, however, the painting has eluded us.  Not every painted figure that shows something is a painting – otherwise every painted map will be a painting.  The painting as such exists at the level of medium – at that level the painting presents line and shape, colour, light and shade as they operate within painting space. These constitute the medium of painting. It is at this level that the painting has been created (not merely produced); interpreted (not merely annotated or figured out); and appraised (not merely priced).


            The medium is : (a) what imparts form or shape to the vehicle material as well as to the content material; (b) what brings the material home to the recipient by projecting it; (c) what enables one to assign a work of art to a certain art form and so deem it fit to be received as painting or sculpture or music or poetry or whatever.  The medium of any art form operates at two levels – the level of technique and the level of style. At the level of technique, the medium is the body of devices through which vehicle conveys content in the course of an act.  At the level of style, the medium is the fusion of qualities through which vehicle embodies content in the forming of an object, the line between vehicle and content getting blurred.


            The site of the existence of a work of art may thus be set out as follows :


              1.            Material

(a)    Vehicle material

(b)   Content material


  2.            Medium

(a)  Technique : Vehicle conveys content through a body of devices in the course of an act.

(b)  Style : Vehicle embodies content through a fusion of qualities in the forming of an object.


            We can now focus on the art of poetry.


            What, finally, is the art of poetry?  What is the site of the existence of a work of poetry?


            1.            Material

(a)           Vehicle : audible and intelligible language use (speech form, lexicogrammatical form, speech sense, speech address) in relation to the situation-at-hand.

(b)           Content : understanding of and response to reality and life, coping with reality and life.


2.            Medium

(a)         Technique : vehicle and content in balance (unlike the vehicle-dominated recreative more or the content-dominated propagative mode); figures of speech form, lexicogrammatical form, speech sense, and speech address; text and its performance fulfilling demands of delectation and projection.

(b)         Style : musical qualities of speech form, logical-rhetorical qualities of lexicogrammatical form, pictorial and storied and intellectual qualities of speech sense and speech address in the lyric mode, the narrative mode, or the dramatic mode; text and its performance fulfilling demands of precision and heightening.


            But a poem not only has existence sited in its material and medium within the human world of coping with life and understanding of reality, but also brings into existence a virtual world to which the recipient of poetry is invited.  (Projection is the set of devices that effect this invitation.)  Unlike the world, say, in a painting or in a musical performance, the world in a poem is an eminently human, populated world lived in the human, storied time against the human, populated world lived in the human, storied time against the human, changeful scene.


            Poetry undoubtedly is a form of Art.  Any use of language in it is a use within the ambit of Art.  The mater-in-hand and the situation-at-hand of poetic sentence sequence are from the eminently human but at the same time virtual world brought into existence by poetry.


            Poetry undoubtedly is a form of Art.  Any use of language in it is a use within the ambit of Art.  The mater-in-hand and the situation-at-hand of poetic sentence sequences are from the eminently human but at the same time virtual world brought into existence by poetry.


            Poetry undoubtedly involves a use of language, but it is a poetic use of language that is quite distinct from the ordinary use of language.


            The ordinary use of language is informal in its logic, evenhanded in its rhetoric, spoken in its music.  But it is liable to lose this ‘innocence’ in either of two somewhat opposed directions – it may be replaced by the technical use of language or by the poetic use of language.


1.            Technical use is eminently open to full translation – there is a drive to cultivating a systematic independence from the peculiarities and vagaries of the specific language.  Not so with the poetic use, any translation of poetry will have some recalcitrant residue – in the poetic use one reveals in exploiting peculiarities and vagaries of the specific language.  English poetry, for example, does not accept that English is a language like any other – it has its own musical, rhetorical, pictorial, storied, or intellectual qualities.  (As has already been seen, even Englishmen’s English is not wholly like Americans’ English.)


2.            Technical statements are validity-oriented and technical mands are fulfillment-oriented : their suasiveness lies entirely in their technical adequacy.  Poetic statements and poetic mands are wholly suasion-oriented.  They call for a willing suspension of disbelief and of practical concerns.


3.            Poetic words and phrases are in a like manner wholly felicity-oriented; but words and phrases in the technical use of language are chiefly reference-oriented.  The sense of poetic words and phrases is steadily worked over through contextualisation; the sense of technical words and phrases typically stands controlled explicitly or at least implicitly.


4.            In the technical use of language, certain key words and phrases tend to recur and to co-occur in a way that alludes implicitly or tacitly to some complex of ideas and messages  Thus, expressions like ‘alleged murderer’, ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, ‘hearsay’ ‘benefit of doubt’, ‘presumed innocent’ allude to a certain notion of fairplay in Anglo-Saxon legal discourse. In a comparable manner, a poem or a body of poems (such as Shakespeare’s sonnets, Blake’s early poems) will often have certain key expressions that hold the poem together contextually or the body of poems together intertextually.  (The body of poems need not be by the same poet- it could be a poetic school or a poetic genre).  What the key expressions allude to need not be merely ideas or messages but also images or referred objects.  (The theoretic or ideologic load of technical key expressions or the ideologic or fictive load of poetic key expressions are excellent examples of what we have earlier called the tacit topos of sentence sequences in 1.4 end.)


5.            Finally, the technical use of language has little use for individual differentiation or even groupwise differentiation of language use.   Thus, the use of distinct terms ‘spirant’ and ‘fricative’ in the same sense or the use of the same term ‘linguist’ in two distinct senses has been a nuisance in technical discourse.  The drive towards standardizing is not a feature of the poetic use of language : the presence of alternate synonyms or alternate senses are quite welcome.  Indeed, there is the opposite drive towards groupwise or even individual differentiation of language.  The same language system may be subjected to selection from available alternatives (people/folk), extension of available features (people as verb), deviation (the cruelest she, a grief ago), even distortion (a rose is a rose is a rose) – but each poet or group of poets will do it in a special way.  Now, ordinary language use or even technical language use have their share of selection and other such processes.  But these processes come to be used in poetry with greater frequency and individuality and for the conscious purpose of achieving a certain precision and concentration or a peculiar heightening or intensity. (Just as there is more to poetic technique than a mere cataloguing of figures or tropes, there is more to poetic style than a mere cataloguing of such language variations.)



3.2       A Case Study


            Our present limited brief is to place the communicative aspect of sentence formation in relation to poetic technique and style.  The study of poetic technique and style is no mere cataloguing : it is more of an art – the art of criticism of poetry – than the science of linguistic analysis, which helps but cannot take over from the critic of poetry.


            Consider this opening of a poem by Dylan Thomas.


On the Marriage of a Virgin


                        Waking alone in a multitude of loves when morning’s light

                        Surprised in the opening of her nightlong eyes

                        His golden yesterday asleep upon the iris

                        And this day’s sun leapt up the sky out of her thighs

                        Was miraculous virginity old as loaves and fishes,

                        Though the moment of a miracle is unending lightning

                        And the shipyards of Galilee’s footprints hide a navy of doves


            Now consider what Rudolf Arnheim, who taught not linguistics or English poetry, but psychology of art at Harvard University, has to say about these lines (in his Visual thinking, 1969, Chapter 13) :


            “The statement starts with “waking”, pure action without a body, and not before line five does the reader arrive at the subject “miraculous virginity,” which tells who is – or, in fact was – waking.  This openness of shape calling for closure produces the suspense of expectation, by which the dynamics inherent in the image makes up for the lack of coherence in the verbal signs.  A directly perceptual medium, such as music, offers this suspense in what is heard rather than indirectly in the mental imagery evoked by the stimulus.  “Waking,” an action without a possessor, is modified in the meantime by “alone” and then by “in a multitude of loves” – each amending and enriching the image through gradual accretion.  Inversely, in “morning’s light” we have a thing without action, immediately amended by the next word to “light engaged in the action of surprising.”  This swift and sudden animation of a thing by the verb that follows it is the specifically linguistic effect on the image, which I am trying to illustrate.  “Surprised,” a transitive verb, opens another long syncopation by putting the reader on the scent of a needed object, which finally turns up in “his golden yesterday.”  These demands for overarching connections create tensions that knit the sprawling length of verbal discourse together.  In the meantime, some of the perceptual relations in the sound pattern of the words themselves become structurally meaningful by making contact with their referents : assonance connects “sky” with “thighs” and “old” with “loaves” and the parallel between the “multitude of loves” in the first line and its religious equivalent, “navy of doves,” in the last, ties the stanza together by both meaning and sound.  Needless to say, none of all this could take place if the sounds of language were not in constant fusion with the images they evoke.”


            How does linguistic analysis help?  Arnheim’s account convincingly verbalizes how one sensitive and intelligent listener would respond to an intelligent and sensitive vocalizing of the text available to us.  What a linguistic analyst can do is to sensitively elucidate what is going on behind the scenes, as it were.  He can set out the communicative structure with its rhetorical qualities, the cognitive structure with its logical qualities, the prosodic structure with its musical qualities, to begin with.


            The communicative structure (ov overture, cl closure) :


Scriptive            A            *Waking alone in a multitude of loves                            ov-1

Focus               B            when morning’s light sur*prised in the

                                    Opening of her nightlong *eyes                                     ov-2

                        C            His golden *yesterday asleep upon the iris                                cl-2

                        D            And this day’s sun leapt up the *sky                                         ov-3

                        E            Out of her *thighs                                                                    cl-3

                        F            Was miraculous vir*ginity old as

                                    loaves and fishes,                                                                    cl-1

Scriptive            G            Though the moment of *miracle                                               ov-4

Residue                        is unending *lightning                                                          cl-v

                        H            And the shipyards of Galilee’s *footprints hide             ov-5

                                    a *navy of doves


            Note : (The asterisk here of course marks the Tone group nucleus accent (as in 2.2.1).)  The communicative rhythm of alternating overtures and closures.  The suspenseful communicative gap between A* and F* and between B* and C* (which is comparable to syncopation in Western music, as Arnheim paints out). The suppression of the topos from the body of the opening stanza.  The sentences are all statements, namely, A-F, B-C, D-F, G, and H.


            The cognitive structure set out with the help of an old fashioned ‘prose order’ version of the lines (portion inserted rather than embedded is marked with a dagger preceding).


S 1       [On the marriage of a virgin]

S 2            [Miraculous virginity [old as loaves and fishes] was waking alone in a multitude of loves]

S 3       [when (=and then) morning’s light surprised his golden yesterday asleep upon the iris in the opening of her nightlong eyes]

S 4       [and (=and then) this day’s sun leapt up the sky out to her thighs]

S 5            [though the moment of a miracle is unending lightning]

S 6       [and the shipyards of Galilee’s footprints hide a navy of doves]


            Note : A sequence of six sentences, S 5 and S 6 together constitute an Insertion, within which S 5 and S 6 are both embedded. Thus, the dominant message flow S 1-2-3-4 has twoo insertions, inserted detail within S2 (old as loaves and fishes) and inserted comment at S 5-6. The reference-claim of the adjuncts ‘nightlong’ and ‘asleep’ are in metonymic displacement in interpretation – from ‘eyes’ to ‘asleep’ are in metonymic displacement in interpretation – from ‘eyes’ to ‘asleep’ and from ‘asleep’ to ‘eyes’ respectively.


            The prosodic structure (short and long pauses are marked by .. and … respectively) :


On-the-‘Marriage of-a-*Virgin\||…

..*waking a`lone in-a-`multi tude of- *loves/| ,when-`morning’s light…

Sur*prised../| ,in-the-`opening of-her- `night-,long *eyes/|..

His-`golden *yester-,day a`sleep u,pon-the-`iris\|..

And-`this-,day’s `sun ,leapt-,up-the- *sky\|.. ,out-of-her- *thighs\|

.. ,Was-mi`raculous vir*ginity `old as-`loaves and-`fishes,\\|

..  ,Though-the-`moment ,of-a-*miracle/|  is-,un`ending *lightning\|

,And-the`ship-yard  of-`Galilee’s  *footprints/|    `hide-a-navy  of-`doves.\\||…


            Note : Supporting the cognitive structure are the assonances loves, doves (lines 1, 7); sky, thighs (line 4); old, loaves (line 5). The italicize syllables mark the metrical beats, six to a line at roughly equal intervals; lines 1, 5, 6 (but not 7) have the so-called initial inversions.


            The lexical structure : The reverse time sequence, namely this day’s morning (lines 1, 4), night (line 2), yesterday (line 3) is supportive of the cognitive structure.  Consider also the pictorial (depictive visual) qualities of multitude, light, opening of eyes, sun, sky, out of thighs, lightning, shipyards, foot-prints, navy of doves.  Also the storied (narrative visual) qualities of waking alone, surprised, nightlong, golden, asleep, leapt up out of.  Also the storied and intellectual qualities of virgin, Galilee, and doves; iris (rainbow and iris of the eye in Greek); loaves and fishes in contrast to miracles (Jesus’ saying at the Gospel of John 6:26).  And the intellectual interplay of the miraculous and the fleshly (lines 5, 6, 7).


            Message-content: Speaking of the marriage of a certain virgin, her virginity (as much a miracle as a given fact of human life) was waking alone and at the same time lingering love-memories overflowed her, even as her eyes and thighs testified to them.


            Message inflow : The whole of the first stanza is in turn an overture to the whole poem, leaving us wondering whether this virgin-like-any-other-virgin isn’t the-Virgin-like-no-other-virgin and whether this sense of the miraculous-yet-obvious (or is it the obvious-yet-miraculous?) will pursue us in the lines that are to follow. Wondering yet satisfied – there is enough local life in this stanza to overflow us.


            Was that breaking the butterfly on a wheel?  Or rather, was it unwinding a moderately tangled skein?  The analysis is intended to serve a two-fold purpose. On the one hand, it should serve to reveal the poetic form of language in all its finesse. (The artistic possibilities of language that tend to appear in profusion in poetry are also occasionally apparent in the ordinary or even the technical use of language.)  On the other hand, this analysis should also serve to reveal how the vehicle material of language integrates with the content material of human life into the medium of poetry so as to meet the demands of delectations and projection, of precision and heightening, and of the appropriate poetic mode.  (In the present case, it is the lyric mode, any narrative or dramatic qualities being contributory to the dominant mode.)  Whichever the purpose that is uppermost in one’s mind, the analysis can give a minute view of the texture of poetry (as in this case study) or a broader view of the structure of the poem as a whole.


            To watch language (in its communicative aspect in the present study) inaction in poetry is to watch language under creative stress. To watch poetry (a portion of a lyric poem in the present study) bodying forth in language is to watch poetry in vivo. Any theory of language that cannot be sustained in this analysis is too rudimentary.  Any theory of poetry that cannot be sustained in this analysis is too ethereal.  Both ways it is an acid test.


            It is not a substitute for poetry criticism, but at its best it could enter into a validation procedure for criticism.


            That should do; ityalam as the Indians say.





            The material on the prosodic apparatus of English is voluminous, of which I have seen a small fragment.  Here I have merely tried to trace insights or views to their earliest attestation in India and the west.  (Readers are most welcome to point out errors and omissions.)  There is too little critical awareness of the tradition today.  The ‘eclipsing’ stance (mentioned by C.F. Voegelin) in contemporary linguistics and the gang warfare in modern science documented by Kuhn (1962) is not a natural and so healthy state of affairs but a pathology of the mercantile-and-capitalist revolution in Western Europe vandalizing knowledge disciplines.  Paradigm changes, yes; eclipsing stances, no. Fair competition, yes; gang warfare, no. (The medieval Indian conformism and apologetic innovation is a pathology of the opposite kind.)


            Not being a native speaker of English and not having unlimited access to native English speech, I have shamelessly plundered these and other sources for examples.  Besides, some readers may thus be helped by familiar examples and for some they might even ring a bell now and then.


            The theoretical foundations of the present study have been presented in greater detail in Kelkar 1997, to which the interested reader can refer.  The present study is essentially a radical reinterpretation of fairly well-known  but poorly understood facts and English-users’ intuitions.


References are to Sections


1.1.1  There have been four criss-crossing debates in respect of language functioning:  1. Is language (a) cognitive or (b) communicative?  2.  Is it (a) nature/God-made or (b) man-made? 3. Is it (a) a medium or  (b) a means in relation to content?  4. Are language features (a) universal or (b) to be reckoned after a ‘chosen’ language or (c) endlessly variable?


            Unreflective man: 1a; 2a; b; 3a; 4b, c.  Not too worried about consistency.  (The chosen language may be classical Greek or Latin or Arabic or Sanskrit or Chinese.)


            Ancient India: 1a Nāgeša, Bharthari, mimā school; b ini, prakriyā grammarians, nyāya school.  2a nitya view; b anitya view.  3a khaṇḍa view;  b akhaṇḍa view.


            West: 1a Greek logos as the gift of speech-reason, Descartes, Kant, Frege, ordinary language philosophy, Sapir, Chomsky; b. Locke, ideal language philosophy, Saussure, Bloomfield, Prague school, Halliday, 2a Greek phusis view, Christian view; b Greek thesis view, Enlightenment.  3a; b as with 1a; b respectively. 4a Greeks, Locke, Kant, Chomsky; b Scholastic philosophy, Eurocentrism; c  Romantics, Humboldt, Boas, Sapir.


            Three phases of speech: ancient Indian tradition elaborated by Bharthari, Nāgeša (pašyantī, madhyamā, vaikharī for inner, mediate, outer speech).


1.1.2:            Sentence can have more than one structure concurrently: Ancient Indian grammar and logic.  West: Sweet.  Verb-centered view: Kriyā and kāraka; Frege.  Subject-centered view: nyāya, mīmā school; Aristotle, early Chomsky.


1.1.3:            Communicative transaction: Karl Bühler, Norbert Wiener, Shannon and Weaver.  Communicative episode: Russian formalists, Malinowski.


1.1.4:   Topos and Scriptum: Sweet, Prague school, Halliday’s topical focus (his Theme) and scriptive focus (his New).  Validity and fulfilment: yathārtha and caritārtha. Validity and suasion: C.S. Peirce. Language rite; Malinowski (his ‘phatic communion’ is an example).


1.1.5:            Bipartite view: šabda and artha; most Western thinkers (including Saussure, Bloomfield, Hjelmlev).  Tripartite view: šabda, artha, and šabdārtha-sabandha; sphoa as the node (elaborated by Bharthari); Jespersen (his ‘form’, ‘function’, ‘notion’), Lamb, Hockett, Chomsky.


            Cognitive structure verb-centered or subject-centred?  (See at 1.1.2 note.)  Revival of verb-centered view: Tesnière, Fillmore (his ‘cases’), Greimas (his ‘actants’), late Chomsky.


            Agent: kart in India; impersonal verbs in west.  Object: karman in India; object in west.  Complement: separation of copula in Indian logic; Bosanquet, Gardiner. Tenant: apādāna, adhikaraa, sapradāna in Indian grammar (source, site, destination); ditransitivity in western gramar; localistic hypothesis of Anderson, Jackendoff.


            Nuclear and marginal elements: Tesnière, Chomsky, Fillmore. Manner and Circmstantial: Kelkar 1997.  Non-transperancy: ini, Jespersen, Palmer, Chomsky, Halliday, Fillmore.  Versions: upagraha and vācya in Sanskrit; diathesis is Greek, genus in Latin (later called ‘voice’).


            Embedded and Inserted: Port-Royal grammar, Global and focal: Jespersen (yes-no and x-question, general and special negation).


1.3.1:            Sentence and word: vākya and pada in India; proposition and term in Western logic, sentence and word in Western grammar. Sense and Reference: Frege.  Topos implicit: Mammaa. Topos tacit: Bosanquet. Marked and unmarked: Prague school, Hjelmslev (his intensif and extensif)


1.3.2:   Non-normal sentences: Jespersen (‘amorphous’). Ranked domains in speech form: vacovinyāsa in Bharata; Palmer. In grammar: bandha in Indian rhetoric; Sweet, Jespersen, Bloomfield, Harris. In notional form: vakyārtha and padārtha in India; proposition and term in logic, text in rhetoric.  Depictive and Narrative: modern rhetoric.


            Ellipsis and its restoration: lopa and adhyāhāra in Indian grammar and rhetoric.  Inserted speech: Jespersen 1937b Fries.


1.3.3:   Display: Jespersen (his ‘extraposition’).  Channel maintenance: sanidhi/āsatti in Kumarila; Shannon and Weaver.


1.4:            Cognitive structure of Phrases: Harris, Chomsky, Halliday.  Cognitive structure of Sentence sequence: Harris (in his ‘discourse analysis’).


2.1:            Conclusive/Inconclusive: nirākāka and sākāa in Bharata, Rāješekhara; Coleman.  Insistent/Reticent: Bailey.  Exclusive and Intensive: Coleman.


2.2.1:            Juncture: sahitā and viccheda in India; logical and rhetorical punctuation, Palmer, Trubetskoi.  Accent and Tone: bala and svara in kāku in Bharata’s dramaturgy; bala and sarva in Indian speech-science šikā.  Accent and Tone in words: Greek and Latin grammar.  Accent in sentence, Kingdon, Bolinger  Tone in English sentences: Jones, Kingdon, Haliday; Pike, Wells, Bolinger.  Accent modifier: Coleman, Kelkar 1976.  Tone modifier: Kingdon, Halliday, Hockett, Kelkar 1976.  Rhythm in English: Jones, Lehiste, Lenghening of full vowel for rhythmic reasons: Bolinger 1963.


2.2.2:   Overt order in English: Jespersen.


2.2.3:   Lexical resources for communicative orientation.


2.3:      Joining of the two: see 2.2.1. Conflation and difflation: Kelkar 1997.


2.4.1:            Sentence tones in questions: Kingdon, Halliday.


2.4.2:            Peripheral speech features: Trager.  Constant/variable and dependent/independent: compare ancient Indian sthira/cala and kārya/nitya distinctions.


3.1:      Logical form of language in all its informality: separation of grammar and logic in India; imposition of formal logic, earlier Aristotelian, later Fregean, on grammar in the West; attempts to work out informal logic of ordinary language: Jespersen 1937a (for an appreciative review, McCawley 1970); ordinary language philosophy, Greenberg (on logical categories as language universals).


            Rhetorical form of language in its even-handedness: Indian rhetoric (alakāra) is about ornamentation, not about partisanship and persuasion.  Western rhetoric is about persuasion and favours either the speaker or the listeners in privileging their preference in respect of content (values promoted, examples offered) or vehicle (accessibility or palatability of presentation).


            Musical form of language in its spokenness:  Indian musical theory and taste favours vocal music. Western musical theory and taste favours instrumental music.


            Notional form is part of poetic vehicle and not of poetic content : Indian poetic theory identifies content of poetry with lokayātrā (way of the world) and vehicle of poetry with speech, meaning, and their arrangement (šabda, artha, bandha).  In the West, Barthes was probably the first to realize this.


            Work of art exists at two levels:  se Wellek and Warren 1949: Chapter 12; Kelkar 1969 for references.  Kant prepared the philosophical ground for this recognition – the middle ground between extreme nominalism and extreme Platonism, and fashioned a philosophical tool for the purpose – critical analysis.


            Union of speech form and content in poetry : Kalidāsa the poet, Bhāmaha.


            Technique and style: Discussed in Kelkar 1987


            Perhaps, it should be emphasized here that the concept of work of art as a painting or a poem presented here is ‘without prejudice’, as the lawyers say, to the basic controversies about poetry or art.  (See Kelkar 1997: 9-12, 37, 56.)


            Three uses of languages: technical, ordinary, and poetic: Kelkar 1984.  Compare also the Indian comparison between the world of everyday experience (the way of the world) with šāstra-pratyaka (technical presentation) and kāvya-pratyaka (poetic presentation) introduced by Bhāmaha, who speaks of the logic of poetry (kāvya-nyāya-niraya).  In the West, Coleridge speaks of ‘the willing suspension of disbelief’ in poetry and Kant of ‘Zweckmässigkeit ohne Zweck’ (purposiveness without purpose) in art.


3.2:      Here is the full text of a relatively earlier poem by Dylan Thomas (1914-1953), the first stanza of which was discussed by Rudolf Arnheim.


On the Marriage of a Virgin


            Waking alone in a multitude of loves when morning’s light

            Surprised in the opening of her nightlong eyes

            His golden yesterday asleep upon the iris

            And this day’s sun leapt up the sky out of her thighs

            Was miraculous virginity old as loaves and fishes,

            Though the moment of a miracle is unending lightning

            And the shipyards of Galilee’s footprints hide a navy of doves.


            No longer will the vibrations of the sun desire on

            Her deep sea pillow where once she married alone,

            Her heart all ears and eyes, lips catching the avalanche

            Of the golden ghost who ringed with his streams her mercury bone,

            Who under the lids of her windows hoisted his golden luggage;

            For a man sleeps where fire leapt down and she learns though his arm

            That other sun, the jealous coursing of the unrivalled blood.




This is not even a select bibliography.  Only a selection of references is presented.  Many of those not given will be found in Kelkar 1997.


Anderson, John M. 1971, The Grammar of case: Towards a localistic theory, London: Cambridge University Press.


Arnheim, Rudolf 1969. Visual thinking.  Berkeley: University of California Press.


Bailey, Charles-James N. 1970 “A new intonation theory to account for pan-English and idiom-particular patterns”.  Papers in linguistics 2: 522-64. (On Insistent-Reticent.)


Bhāmaha 5c-7c CE. Kāvyālakāra. (On poetics) (The world in poetry, ch.5)


Bharata 5c BCE-3c CE. Nātyašāstra. (On theatre arts)


Bharthari 4c-5c CE Vākyapadīya. (On the philosophy of grammar.)


Bolinger, Dwight L. 1946.  The Representation of tonal profiles. Word 2.


--. 1949 “Intonation and analysis”.  Word 5: 248-54


--.  1957 “Intonation: levels vs. configurations”.  Word 7: 199-210


--.  1963 Linguistics 1: 5-29.


Coleman, H.O. 1912. “Intonation and emphasis” in: Miscellanea phonetica. Paris: IPA Section 6-15 (his ‘contrastive’ and ‘intensive’ emphasis), section 60 (his tone of ‘Non-finality’); data from English, French.


Fries, Charles Carpenter 1952.  The Structure of English: An Introduction to the construction of English sentences.  New York: Harcourt, Brace. Inserted speech for channel and rapport maintenance; data from recorded telephone conversations.


Halliday, M.A. K. 1970.  A Course in spoken English: Intonation. London: Oxford University Press.


Jespersen, Otto 1917.  Negation in English and other languages.  Copenhagen: Royal Danish Academy of Sciences.


--.        1924. “Logic and grammar”.  Society of Pure English tracts, 16, Oxford: Clarendon Press.


--.        1933.  Essentials of English grammar.  London: Allen & Unwin; New York: Henry Holt.


--.        1937a.  Analytic syntax.  Copenhagen: Einar Munksgaard; London; George Allen and Unwin. (See also McCawley, James D.)


--.        1937b.  “Linguistic self-criticism”.  Society of Pure English tracts, 48, Oxford: Clarendon Press.


Jones, Daniel 1909.  The Pronunciation of English.  Cambridge University Press, (Revised 1950)


--.        1916. An Outline of English phonetics. Leipzig: Teubner; Cambridge: Heffer. (Revised 1956)


Kelkar, Ashok R. 1969. “The Being of a poem.” Foundation of language 5: 17-33.


--.        1976.  “Teaching grammar for communicative competence.”  National Workshop on Communicative Grammar, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur. 13p, unpublished. Includes case studies:  English modal verbs; English intonations.  Bolinger (personal communication) found it insightful but too tersely presented.


--.        1984.  “The Semiotics of technical names and terms.”  Researches sémiotiqueś  Semiotic inquiry 4: 303-26.


--.        1987. “Style and technique”  In: Suresh Kumar, ed. Stylistics and text analysis.  New Delhi: Bahri, 1987, p-1-16.


--.        1989.  “Prosodies and their functions in Marathi.”  Bulletin of the Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute 51-2: 289-302, 1991-92, issued 1993. Written 1989.


--.        1997. Language in a semiotic perspective : The Architecture of a Marathi sentence, Pune: shubhada-Saraswat.


Kingdon, Roger 1939.  “Tonetic stress marks.” Maitre phonétique, Oct. (Sixty Ways of saying ‘I can’t find one’.)


--.        1958a.  The Groundwork of English stress.  London: Longmans.


--.        1958b.  The Groundwork of English intonation.  London: Longmans.


Lehiste, Ilse (Argues from instrumental evidence against the stress-timed isochronism in English.)


McCawley, James D. 1970.  Review of Jespersen, Analytic syntax, new Reprint. Language 46: 442-9.


Mamaa 11c CE. Kāvya-prakāša.  (On poetics.) (Topos impliit, 5: 47.)


Palmer, Harold; Blandford, F.G. 1939. A Grammar of spoken English, 2nd ed. Cambridge: Heffer


--.        Pānini 6c-5c BCVE.  Šabdānušāsana, popularly known as Aādhyāyī (8:2:82-108 duration and tone at word and sentence levels.)


Patañjali 2c BCE.  Vyākaraa-mahābhāya, Extensive commentary on Pāini’s Sanskrit grammar.


Pike, Kenneth L. 1945.  The Intonation of American English.  Ann Arbor: University of Michigan.


Rājašekhara 10c CE.  Kāvyamīmā.  (On poetics.)


Sweet, Henry 1892, 1898.  A New English grammar: Logical and historical.  2 parts.  Oxford: Clarendon Press. (Reprinted 1952.) (Part I, on parallel structures, with agent, subject, topos – his logical subject, grammatical subject, psychological subject respectively.)


Thomas, Dylan 1939. Selected writings of Dylan Thomas.  New York: New Directions.  The poem on p 65.  Also in his: Collected poems 1934-1952.  London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1952 (included in Everyman’s Library 1966).


Trubetskoi, Nikolai S. 1936. Die phonologischen Grenzsignale.  Proceedings of the 2nd International Congress of Phonetic sciences London 1935.  Cambridge University Press, p 45-9. (On junctures).


Wells, Rulon S. 1945.  The Pitch phonemics of English.  Language 21: 27-39.


wierzbicka, Anna. Cross-cultural pragmatics: The Semantics of human interaction.  Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.








            A shorter presentation was made as three lectures at the International Seminar-cum-Workshop on English Grammar, Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad, India, August 1997, and was soon written up in a longer version, which was touched up in January 2003, and published in CIEFL Bulletin ns. 13:1:1-70, June 2003.