The Greek Interjections : Studies on the Syntax, Semantics and Pragmatics of the Interjections in Fifth-Century Drama

University dissertation from Stockholm : Department of French, Italian and Classical Languages, Stockholm University

Abstract: This thesis investigates the linguistic and philological characteristics of the primary interjections in Ancient Greek drama. It employs Ameka’s definition and classification from 1992 as its theoretical base, and provides a comprehensive research survey. The thesis has a data-driven approach, and is based on all items traditionally classified as interjections.In the chapter on morphology and syntax, the unique characteristics of interjections are presented. E.g., NPs co-occurring with interjections form an interjection phrase, which follows a specific pattern, in accordance with a phrase schema.The chapter on semantics, which is the main part of the thesis, employs an analytical model based on a moderate minimalism approach. This assumes that all items have a core meaning that can be identified without the aid of context, yet allows different, but related, meanings. The definition adopted in the present thesis states that interjections share only formal characteristics, and thus can be divided into categories based on their semantic features, which are defined using Kaplan’s notion of informational equivalence. The thesis deals with three such categories, each with its individual semantic properties:expressive interjections, express the speaker’s experience of emotion and/or cognition;conative interjections, express what the speaker wants the addressee or auditor to do;imitative interjections, depict or reproduce sounds or events.Items in category 1 are the most frequent and thus receive most attention.In the chapter on pragmatics, it is proposed that the primary function of interjections is to express the core semantics in a specified context. Felicity conditions are suggested for an utterance to convey the primary meaning of an interjection. Interjections are also shown to have various secondary functions, e.g. that of strengthening markers.Finally, a lexicon is provided, which offers individual informational equivalents of all interjections under study.

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