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Narrativity And Serial Verb Construction In Digital Discourse

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The term ‘Narrativity is generated by the recognition of reported events, ordered within a temporal framework, and experienced by an individuated existent who acts as a filtering consciousness which makes sense of them’.

A serial verb construction is a succession of verbs and their complements (if any) with one subject and one tense value that are not separated by any overt marker of coordination or subordination. The construction SVC should have the following properties:

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  1. A sequence of two or more verbs which can both also function independently
  2. Mono-clausality, with all the intonational properties of a mono-verbal clause
  3. One tense, aspect, modality and polarity value that is shared by all verbs. This is normally only marked on one verb, but can be marked on all of them
  4. No markers of subordination, coordination or any kind of syntacticdependency
  5. The verbs share at least one core argument
  6. There is only one grammatical subject
  7. The construction refers to a single event.

Linguists mostly felt ill at ease in dealing with complex structures as multi-word units. The question now is: ‘Are different linguistic representations of events associated with different ways of thinking about the events?’. Narrative serial verb constructions ‘tell a short story’. The ‘small stories’ approach in digital discourse, especially Facebook platform, is a blossoming genre that gives way to free linguistic practices. Pawley provides his response by drawing a distinction between two types of serial verb constructions, which he terms ‘compact’ and ‘narrative.’ Compact series do not permit the insertion of any material between the verbs that constitute the series. Their meanings can generally be expressed by single verbs in English. In contrast, narrative series may span multiple clauses and correspond to multi-clausal narratives in English, following similar principles in terms of the order of presentation and the type of information presented at each stage. Yet, like compact series, they typically fall under a single intonation contour, and each sequence of verbs appears to be stored as a template in long-term memory.

In typical coordinate constructions, neither clausal profile overrides the other at the higher level of organization. However, in addition to the main element, an event could have an inception phase and/or termination phase, with the former serving as a preparatory stage and the latter usually signaling a resultative stage. Thus, an event can contain the core phase plus a verb which serves as an inception phase and/or termination phase. If more than one phase is involved in the event it necessarily becomes a complex event.

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