Dr. Saidu Challay
Institute of Languages and Cultural Studies
Njala University, Sierra Leone
In our daily use of language, speakers and listeners implicitly assume the meanings of utterances from the discourse. This is because interlocutors are expected to have shared world knowledge of the topic under discussion. The notions of ‘given’ and ‘new’ information are used in the English clause as a way of packaging information, and making it possible for interlocutors to understand one another. In most cases, a lot is left unsaid because the speaker assumes that the hearer will be able to process the information. Similarly, in some cases, speakers will pre-pose information which they assume to be new information, because the hearer or reader will be more interested in such information. This paper presents the contribution of ‘given’ and ‘new’ information to the grammar of the English clause. For the purpose of this study, a short extract was used from Hardy’s novel The Mayor of Casterbridge, where sentences were extracted indicating given and new information. The unmarked clause structure in English normally presents given information before new information. In the extract from the novel as well as some other examples, it was discovered that for stylistic variation and other principles of textual organisation, the notions of given and new information are used.
Key Words: Canonical, Co-referential, Discourse, Interlocutors, Prosodic,