Conc-ITA

Concessivity in argumentation: evidence from a corpus of Italian-speaking students

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The Conc-ITA PhD project focuses on the analysis of the semantic and syntactic expression of concession in the Italian language, with a specific focus on texts written by high school students. Concession is a complex linguistic phenomenon, and the existing literature offers various interpretations of its semantic subtypes and introductory markers for such relationships. This study analyzed a sub-corpus of 227 texts selected from the larger ITACA project corpus (Eurac Research), which contains writings from fourth-year high school students in the autonomous province of Bolzano.

The main objectives of this project are as follows:

a. The definition of the semantic and syntactic characteristics of concession in the corpus through a comprehensive review of the literature.
b. The identification of the semantic subtypes of concession, with the aim of resolving existing ambiguities in previous classifications.
c. The identification of the elements that introduce the concessive relationship in the data through a comparison with the results of previous studies.

The initial results of the analysis revealed a certain complexity in defining the concession category itself. The adoption of a precise classification system allowed for the identification of 452 concessive structures in the sub-corpus and their analysis according to syntactic and semantic parameters. Furthermore, "composite" structures and a particular type of construction called "wide juxtaposition" were identified. The introductory elements of concession include well-known markers such as "ma" (but), "però" (however), and "anche se" (even though), but "multi-word expressions" that previously did not seem to have been addressed in Italian studies were also identified. Concessive reinforcement adverbs have been identified in various syntactic constructions, thereby expanding our understanding of how concession is expressed in this language.

Moreover, the analysis of the semantic subtypes of concession suggested overlaps between categories previously described in the literature, indicating the need for a revision of the number and characteristics of such subtypes.

This study can have a significant impact on understanding the complexity of the concessive relationship in contemporary Italian, with potential applications in the fields of theoretical linguistics and language education.

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