The following research paper is going to be dealing with the use of competing referents in oral texts, making a difference between their use in monologues and in conversations that involve two or more participants, since most of the time the focus is not on this difference, as well as the fact that this issue is usually analyzed in written texts, in regular grammar courses.The script of the famous movie “The godfather” is going to be utilized as an example of oral discourses. Therefore, the focus is going to be on the use of referring expressions versus the use of paraphrased referents when competing referents appear.
According to Pablo Corvalán, the repetition or paraphrasing of the referent is more common because it is used to avoid ambiguity (inPractical English Text Grammar, 2000*). Even though referring expressions used as competing referents in monologues may be not always clear, when there are two or more participants on a conversation, confusion is avoided thanks to the context, due to all the people involved are aware of what is being talked about.
That being so, the purpose of this study is to demonstrate that referringexpressions are more commonly used as competing referents in this script, that works as an example of oral texts, than the repetition or paraphrasing of the referent.
As it was stated before, the purpose of this research is to set forth that referring expressions are more frequently used than paraphrased referents when competing referents appear in conversations.
Beforedisclosing what authors have said about the topic, let us clarify what a competing referent is, in view of we are going to cope with that concept through the research paper.
A competing referent is described as a referent that possesses similar semantic characteristics to the referent that has been activated before in the text, and it generally disrupts this activation (Corvalán 2000*).(Taken from “Should an 8-Year-Old Watch ‘Glee’?” Lisa Belkin, Monday October 25, 2010, The New York Times)
In extract (1) parents is the activated referent that is disrupted by the appearance of the competing referent children, which is semantically alike to the previous one, as both can be replaced by the third personal plural pronoun they.
As a result of the competing referent’ssemantic similarity to the previous referent, it has been said that "when a competing referent is introduced, however, writers usually find ways of avoiding ambiguity by rewording their referents" (Corvalán, P., Practical English Text Grammar, 2000), that is to say, paraphrasing or repetition of the referent is preferred rather than the use of referring expressions.
(Taken from theMean Girls, film script)
In extract (2) Brutus is the competing referent that interrupts Caesar’s activation. In this case, the repetition of the referents is to avoid ambiguity, which could have occurred if the referring expression he was used instead of the proper nouns.
Actually, referent repetition and paraphrase are regarded as “ways of dealing with competing referents”(Corvalán, P., Practical English Text Grammar, 2000). Also, Vyvyan Evans and Stéphanie Pourcel stated that “In cases of same gender/number referents, repeated proper nouns are used in order to avoid ambiguity for the hearer/reader.” (New directions in cognitive linguistics, p. 451) Therefore, rewording the referent seems to be a better option rather than using referring expressions when competingreferents are introduced.
However, the use of referring expressions has been associated with the presence of a clear context, that is, the context itself helps to avoid confusion. Thus, repetition or paraphrasing of the referent becomes unnecessary.
(Taken from the My Sister’s Keeper, film script)
In extract (3) Kate is the referent and Anna the competing referent. In...