Marri Amon will defend her doctoral thesis „Initial and final detachments in spoken Estonian“ on 26 August at 14.15 in the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Tartu Jakobi 2-438.
Professor emeritus M. M. Jocelyne Fernandez-Vest, CNRS&Université Paris Sorbonne Nouvelle (France)
dr Liina Lindström, University of Tartu
Opponent: prof Marja-Liisa Helasvuo, University of Turku (Finland).
The present thesis “Initial and final detachments in spoken Estonian: a study in the framework of Information Structuring” analyses detachment constructions (initial and final detachments) in spoken Estonian, in the framework of Information Structuring. Initial detachments are defined as structures where a detached lexical element precedes the main clause, which contains a coreferential pronoun; in final detachments, the referent is at first referred to by a pronoun in the main clause, followed by the lexical element in a detached element at the end of the utterance. These structures have been considered universals in spontaneous oral language, but their functions and degree of grammaticalization differ in various languages.
Detached constructions have not been investigated before in Estonian. They have been associated to the notions of Theme and Post-rheme at the level of Information Structuring, i.e. initial detachment introduces an element that is considered as Theme at the informational level and final detachment serves to introduce the Post-rheme. Given that there are no studies dedicated to the level of Information Structuring as independent object of investigation, an overview about the main problems of this domain is provided in first chapters of the thesis, followed by a summary of studies (in syntax) about Estonian where the notions of Information Structuring framework have been used. The analysis of the corpus concentrates mainly on the informational status of the referent, different functions of these constructions and their functioning at the discourse level.
The analysis revealed that detached constructions allow the information to be staged during the discourse building work; as concerns the informational status of the referents, it could be shown that they have mostly been mentioned before during the conversation or are present in the thematic frame of the discourse. Final detachments are also used in order to introduce unmentioned and new referents. Besides the formal differences, and stemming from them, the two constructions are clearly different as concerns the mechanisms of introduction of the referent and its treatment in the discourse.