Baltic accent

2023 Vol. 14 №3

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Really: syntactics without semiotics?



I discuss the relation of linguistics and semiotics on the basis of the Old Russian discourse particle TI1 ‘indeed’, ‘verily’, ‘truly’ discovered by Andrej A. Zaliznjak in 1993. Linguistics and semiotics are different research programmes: the first one deals with specific features of language structures, while the second one discusses general characteristics of all sign systems, from a perspective of interpreting most or all of them as secondary respective to natural language. Formal models of language deal with classes of elements and predict their positions. Lexicographic descriptions provide instructions to the use of particular language items treated as signs with their concepts and syntactics. Functional words including discourse particles allow both approaches. The existence of Old Russian particle TI1 as has been proved by Zaliznjak on the basis of formal conditions, constraining the position of this particle in the clausal structure. Meanwhile, Zaliznjak failed to provide a lexicographical description of TI1 and reliable external parallels from other languages. I argue that TI1 is a marker of verification with the meaning ‘p really takes place’. The view that TI1 expressed enhanced indicativity is not tenable, since this particle was licensed in hypothetical contexts and combined with the optative marker. It is essential to identify the lexicographic type of a functional word in order to get its full syntactics.


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