Academic journal article Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Referent Accessibility of Appositive Constructions in the Spanish Press

Academic journal article Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Referent Accessibility of Appositive Constructions in the Spanish Press

Article excerpt


The aim of this paper is to describe Spanish appositive constructions and to investigate the discourse role they assume in newspaper articles. Two types of appositive constructions are discussed: the specificational and the classificatory appositive constructions. The former present a relationship of secondary nominal predication and show a parallelism with copular structures. The latter are characterized by a relationship of non-restrictive modification. After describing the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic properties of both structures, we offer a detailed discourse analysis of these appositive constructions in the Spanish written press. A corpus of 10,783 nominal expressions with human referents was compiled, of which a third represent appositive constructions. The data-driven account is based on the exhaustive analysis of these referents and aims at applying Ariel's accessibility theory (1990) to our data. Moreover, the purpose is to extend her referent accessibility scale with our appositive constructions. Generally speaking, this discourse study will examine how the nature of referring expressions, more precisely of the specificational and classificatory appositive constructions, reflects their accessibility status.


El objetivo del presente artículo es describir las construcciones apositivas en español e investigar el papel discursivo que asumen en la prensa escrita. Se discutirán dos tipos de construcciones apositivas: las construcciones apositivas especificativas y las clasificatorias. Las primeras presentan una relación de predicación secundaria y pueden compararse con las construcciones copulativas. Las segundas se caracterizan por su relación de modificación no restrictiva. Tras haber descrito las propiedades sintácticas, semánticas y pragmáticas de ambos tipos, procedemos al análisis discursivo de estas construcciones apositivas en el discurso periodístico español. Recopilamos una base de datos de 10,783 expresiones nominales con referente humano, de las cuales una tercera parte constituyen construcciones apositivas. Nuestra aproximación busca aplicar la teoría de accesibilidad de Ariel a nuestros datos. Aún más, el objetivo es extender su escala con las construcciones apositivas. Resumiendo, el presente estudio discursivo persigue examinar cómo la naturaleza de las expresiones referenciales, y en particular de las construcciones apositivas especificativas y clasificatorias, refleja su grado accesibilidad.

The term apposition has been interpreted in many different ways and used for a variety of constructions. Traditionally apposition is considered as a juxtaposition of two noun phrases placed alongside each other. Both segments are considered syntactically and semantically equivalent. Nonetheless, this apparently simple definition does not lead to a clear understanding of the concept of apposition, as can be concluded from the very different constructions listed by Acuña Fariña (1996: 15-18), see examples 1-10 below:

(1) The poet Burns.

(2) My friend Smith.

(3) Professor Brown.

(4) The city of New York.

(5) We boys.

(6) The idea that cats can fly.

(7) There is now ample accommodation for them here, no less than five hospital ships being available, viz. Maine, Spartan, Nubia, Lismore and Avoca.

(8) They met here, in London.

(9) Its use is that of any other definition; to enable us to agree what comes into our discussion and what does not.

(10) We might therefore ask two things about a theory of a change of state:

a) Does it give a satisfying physical picture of what is probably happening?

b) Is the numerical agreement with the observed facts in keeping with the number of adjustable parameters, or is the theory unduly 'forced' in that respect?

It is obvious that delineating the defining properties of an appositive construction is far from easy.

The aim of the present article is to share a more accurate analysis for two specific kinds of appositive constructions, illustrated by these examples: 'el presidente de los Estados Unidos, Obama' and 'el presidente Obama'. …

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