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Language, reason and education

Studies in honor of Eddo Rigotti


Edited By Giovanni Gobber and Andrea Rocci

Language as reason represents the unifying theme of this multifaceted reflection on Eddo Rigotti’s scientific contribution offered by his students and colleagues on the occasion of his seventieth birthday. Spanning argumentation theory, linguistics, psychology, semiotics and communication sciences, the volume reflects Rigotti’s generous personality and his trajectory of semiotician, philosopher, linguist and specialist in argumentation studies. Language as an instrument of communication with semiotic peculiarities is considered at different levels in which it manifests traces of reason at work. This means considering how reality reveals itself by means of language and how the semiotic character of language structures is used by people to enable joint actions and change the natural and social world. Particularly in focus is the realm of argumentation, that is of those joint actions where people exchange reasons in various communities, fora and markets in view of understanding and practical deliberation. To argumentation Eddo Rigotti devoted all his research efforts in recent years, with a keen sense of its intrinsic educational value and a sincere care for fostering the development of the argumentative mind.
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Guido Michelini: About the functions of the passive


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About the functions of the passive

GUIDO MICHELINI, University of Parma

During the year 1979, when I was a scholarship holder at the Catholic University of Milan, I began a research about the textual functions of the passive in the old Indo-European languages by developing some ideas suggested to me by Eddo Rigotti, who at the time taught general linguistics there. This research resulted in the book Linguistica testuale e indoeuropeo: il passivo ‘Text linguistics and Indo-European: the passive’ (Michelini 1981) – published by the Linguistic Centre of the Catholic University –, which I will take as a starting point for this paper.

The main assumption of the book is that “in principle the passive construction can be considered as a simple “strategy”, which is alternative to the active construction and lets (or can let) the speaker codify in a different way the same meaning of the underlying semantic representation at the surface level” (Michelini 1981: 31). The semantic elements which are considered pivotal for the analysis of the passive are the “deep cases” and the functional sentence perspective of the Prague linguistic school (Michelini 1981: 17–22), whilst subject, object and agent concern the level of the syntactic structure, intermediate between meaning and surface structure according to the principles of Mel’čuk’s Meaning-Text Model, and do not play a specific semantic role: “the subject is the constituent that builds the nucleus of the sentence together with the verb” (Michelini 1981: 24). The...

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