Backgrounded but not peripheral: On the use of Danish directional adverbs as contextualization cues

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In this paper I pay a closer look at the use of the CENTRE-PERIPHERY schema in context. I address two specific issues: first, I show how the CENTRE-PERIPHERY schema, encoded in the DDAs, enters into discourses that conceptualize and characterize a local community as both CENTRE and PERIPHERY, i.e. the schema enters into apparently contradictory constructions of the informants’ local home-base and, possibly, of their identity (cf. Hovmark, 2010). Second, I discuss the status and role of the specific linguistic category in question, i.e. the directional adverbs. On the one hand we claim that the DDAs in question contribute to the socio-cultural construction of identity, i.e. that they play a rather specific role in discursive communication and socio-cultural meaning construction. On the other hand it is clear that the semantics of the DDAs in question, seen in isolation, is very abstract or general; furthermore, the DDAs are backgrounded in discourse. Is it reasonable to claim, rather boldly, that “the informants express their identity in the use of the directional adverb ud ‘out’ etc.”? In the course of this article, however, I suggest that the DDAs in question do contribute to the socio-cultural construction of identity, and, as a matter of fact, that their role might be quite important. I argue that the DDAs are backgrounded but not peripheral, i.e. marginal or insignificant. And I introduce the notion of “contextualization cue” in this argument (Levinson, 2003a, Gumperz, 1992).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVariation in Language and Language Use : Linguistic, Socio-Cultural and Cognitive Perspectives
EditorsMartin Pütz, Monica Reif, Justyna Robinson
Number of pages18
Place of PublicationFrankfurt-am-Main
PublisherPeter Lang
Publication date2013
ISBN (Print)978-3-631-64020-3
Publication statusPublished - 2013
SeriesDuisburger Arbeiten zur Sprach- und Kulturwissenschaft

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