Re: Alliteration

From: Christoph Unger (
Date: Tue Sep 17 2002 - 15:01:03 GMT

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    Dear Stefan and all,

    I am sure that there is a lot more to say about alliteration, but here are a
    few comments:

    > Dear all,
    > While reading Jutta Muschard's useful and enlightening 1996 Masters thesis for
    > the University of Hannover (Relevant Translations:History, Presentation,
    > Criticism,
    > Application-Peter Lang European University Studies) I came across an
    > interesting
    > section on alliteration. She asks the following questions (1996:193):
    >> - is alliteration to be considered a subcategory of repetition, which
    >> triggers an
    > increase in contextual effects (Sperber/Wilson 1986:220) such as
    > 'leitmotif'efffect'
    > and thus is a matter of relevance ,or

    In the case of repetition, the audience's processing effort is increased,
    and therefore the audience will need to come up with additional cognitive
    effects to satisfy relevance expectations. It's a direct cause-consequence
    relation; the audience doesn't have to recognise the rhetoric device. The
    effect of the rhetoric device is based on a relatively effort-based
    processing strategy.

    Alliteration seems to me to work differently. In this case, the audience
    needs to metarepresent the linguistic properties of the utterance to notice
    the alliteration. (Doesn't it happen that we sometimes overlook
    alliterations on the first reading, and miss out on rhetoric effects?) When
    this is done, it influences the audience's expectations of relevance: the
    words may be chosen not in virtue of the concept they encode, but
    communicate ad-hoc concepts (since it is unlikely that word choice based on
    phonological features coincides with desired semantic preciseness). In other
    words: the explicature is more weakly communicated; which raises
    expectations about weakly communicated implications, thus triggering poetic
    effects. Based on these effect-based relevance expectations, the audience is
    prepared to put in more processing effort. The effect of the rhetoric device
    is based on a relatively effect-based processing strategy.

    >> -is it be considered as a hint that the alliterating terms belong together
    >> and
    > represent an entity thus reducing processing efforts,

    This idea may be combined with ad-hoc concept idea, but alliteration
    probably isn't centered around 'reducing processing effort.'

    >> -or is it simply a matter of stylistics which has to be regarded as
    >> communicative
    > clue to be preserved by means of another stylistic feature?

    > She regards itas a shortcoming that the 'notion of communicative clue has
    > not
    > yet been fully developed'.

    The notion of 'communicative clue' is a derivative notion, not a
    theoretically basic one. Any feature of a stimulus can be used as a
    communicative clue - so long as the communicator intends it. The same
    feature can be intended as a communicative clue in one stimulus but not so
    in another. It is hard to see how the notion of communicative clue can be
    'fully developed', and why it should. The framework of ostensive-inferential
    communication is all that is needed. For further comments along these lines

    Gutt, Ernst-August 2000: 'Textual properties, communicative clues and the
    translator,' in: Navarro, Pilar et al. _Transcultural Communication:
    Pragmalinguistic Aspects._ Zaragoza: Anubar. 151-160.

    > Does anyone have any views on the matter?
    > Cheers Stefan
    > Måsvägen 8A2
    > 22100 Mariehamn
    > Åland
    > Finland
    > 018-13902




    Christoph Unger
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    D-35398 Giessen

    Phone: (49) 6403 73782
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