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The Concept Of Event And Event Segmentation

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The relationship between language and thought is controversial and has gone through a long path of scrutiny among philosophers and linguists. Thus, it renders defining a ‘conceptual event’ to be, by no means, an easy task. The way events are segmented in language is often assumed to mirror the way we segment them conceptually. ‘What is an event?’ is a question whose answer has been attempted by many in the fields of linguistics and philosophy, since Aristotle’s Metaphysics 1048b. Stemming from the premise that a ‘verb’ is a linguistic sign that denotes ‘an action or a state’, therefore, a combination of a group of serial verbs constitutes an event or a ‘short story’.

Event segmentation operationally refers to a single clause that contains more than two serial (consecutive) verbs which have one subject. These types of verbs are referred to as ‘serial verb constructions’, Haspelmath (2016). In the English example, [1] He has been trying to fix the dishwasher, the four verbs belong to the same phrase and refer to only one conceptual event. In Egyptian Colloquial Arabic, it is hypothesized in this paper, that the more serial verbs that occur in the clause, the more potential narrative elements, and hence more functions, that are added. Consider the following examples:هات الكتاب [2 (a)] hӕt-ikkitӕbbring-you (masc. sing.) the bookقوم هات الكتاب [2 (b)]u:m hӕt-ikkitӕbʔbring-you (masc. sing.) the bookقوم روح هات الكتاب [2 (c)] u:m ru:ḩ hӕt-ikkitӕb ʔrise up go bring-you (masc. sing.) the bookقوم اتحرك روح هات الكتاب [2 (d)] ʔu:m-itḩarrak ru:ḩ hӕt-ikkitӕbbring-you (masc. sing.) the book قوم انجر اتحرك روح هات الكتاب [2 (e)] ʔu:m-ingarr-itḩarrak ru:ḩ hӕt-ikkitӕb you (masc. sing.) get up- hurry- move- bring- the book.

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The varying formal features in the examples [2 (a-e)] are definitely concomitant with different functions. In this paper, it is hypothesized that there is a correlation between the narrative element suggested through using serial verb construction patterns and the portrayal of a conceptual event.

Conceptual events in digital discourse, as investigated in this paper, are constructed through the frequent use of serial verbs in posts and status updates. Distinctive features of digital discourse, as a newly investigated genre, are now definitely coming to see light, due to the increasing attention they gain in recent research work; though this has been rather preliminary to date and there is no agreement on methodological standards. While the excessive use of pictograms, as one of its main features, for instance, has encompassed scrutiny, little focus has been drawn to other formal or functional verbal manifestations for constructing conceptual events. Hiding – but not eliminating- one’s face while using Facebook may entail more freedom of expression and representation.

Viewed as text alone, Page posits ‘narrative characteristics of the status update’ in Facebook as a free social platform. As a self-contained unit, it has a writer who tells about an experience. Like all social media, it is characterized by the automatic generation of the writer’s ‘preferred’ identity and hence recognition on the part of the recipient(s). This gives way to an immediate response; no anonymous author is there in all cases. Timestamp is also automatically generated in Facebook posts and updates. ‘As the time of narration is understood to be near simultaneous with the time of reported events, this enables the audience to reconstruct a chronological position for the updated events’. Worth noting is that due to the specific nature of digital discourse in general, and Facebook communication in particular, some issues like gender can hardly submit to scrutiny. This is due to the possibly disguised or concealed identity of the user.

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