Textualization across Media A Case Study Based on Person Reference in Talk and Material Culture

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Raymond F. Person, Jr.


Although there may be some significant differences between oral discourse and written discourse, this chapter explores the similarities of how textualization can occur across media, from everyday conversation to literature with special reference to the cognitive-linguistic practices associated with person reference. This exploration begins with observations taken from Conversation Analysis to understand the basic practices of person reference in talk-in-interaction, including the preference for achieving recognition and the preference for minimalization. The paper then provides two examples of person reference in written material culture: (1) bulla A and B from excavations at Lachish, which contains two Hebrew names translated as “Eliakim, (son of) Yehozarah” and (2) a discussion of text-critical variants concerning person reference in 2 Sam 3:23-25 and in 2 Kgs 24:18//Jer 52:1. This analysis leads to the following conclusion: for successful communication to occur, textualization requires some level of co-cultural knowledge between speakers/writers and hearers/readers in ways that requires the speakers/writers to make certain assumptions about the co-cultural knowledge of the hearers/readers and design their speech/writing accordingly; therefore, any particular example of textualization should not be understood as explicitly containing all of the information shared between speakers/writers and hearers/readers. This chapter ends with reflections on the implications of this conclusion on understanding both individual manuscripts of ancient literature and the text-critical “variants” between manuscripts of the “same” literary text as examples of textualization within textual plurality, a characteristic of ancient literature.

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