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Linguistic Rhythm and its Meaning: Rhythm Waves and Semantic Fields

Issue: Vol 14 No. 1-2 (2018)

Journal: Linguistics and the Human Sciences

Subject Areas: Writing and Composition Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/lhs.38410


Linguistic rhythm has generally not been considered to realize semantic units.Exceptions are van Leeuwen (1992) and Martinec (1996, 2000, 2002). This articledevelops further Martinec's hierarchical model of rhythm by relating it to semanticfields. The semantic units realized by rhythmic units in his model are wavesof import, which belong to the textual metafunction (see e.g. Halliday and Matthiessen,2014). They are shown to be mapped onto semantic fields, signalling theirgreater or lesser importance. Import foci fall on those members of the semanticfields which have the most import and thus also attract attention to importantsemantic fields. The two criteria often harmonize with one another and when theydo not, this is explained by textual and lexicogrammatical reasons. The model isalso further developed by the principle of frustrated expectations being added tothe contextual factors from which import is derived.

Author: Radan Martinec

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