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Empirical Methods in Language Studies

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Edited By Krzysztof Kosecki and Janusz Badio

«Empirical Methods in Language Studies» presents 22 papers employing a broad range of empirical methods in the analysis of various aspects of language and communication. The individual texts offer contributions to the description of conceptual strategies, syntax, semantics, non-verbal communication, language learning, discourse, and literature.
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Ellipsis and sentence fragments in Ian McEwan’s Amsterdam: their effect on meaning

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Abstract: Ian McEwan’s fiction offers numerous opportunities to observe patterns in characters’ discourse. One of them may be a pattern which involves omitting one or more words which are usually parts of the grammatical structure – fragments or cases of ellipsis. We will take a look at examples from the text of McEwan’s Amsterdam (1998) and at how can these fragments be interpreted as well as how they affect the way the characters’ utterances are understood. The questions raised here are: does the fact that there is actually less than a full sentence make the conversation more difficult to comprehend? Does it violate Grice’s maxim of quantity? What leads the author to including such pattern in the discourse so frequently?

Keywords: ellipsis/fragments, Amsterdam, discourse, characters, meaning.

1. Introduction

Works of fiction and the discourse of the characters included in them are frequently full of various observable patterns. Each author has a unique style which is usually reflected in the text and subsequently in the characters’ conversation. What is said by them depends a lot on the author’s decisions and therefore differs more or less from an authentic conversation. However, there are means and tools that can be used to make the conversation among the characters as realistic as possible while preserving the tension that keeps the reader interested in the story till the very last page.

In Ian McEwan’s novel Amsterdam (1998), one of the very frequent patterns is inclusion of...

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