Introduction to the Problem of Individuation in the Early by Jorge J. E. Gracia

By Jorge J. E. Gracia

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The numbers in parentheses following the quotations are reference or index numbers to the transcribed material of the conversations which furnished the basic evidence for this study. That is, of the shorter units, for I have not included here examples of long utterance units that began conversations. As a working procedure I assumed that these were not single free utterances. The failure to make this division between 'situation utterance units' and 'response utterance units' seems to me to account for much of the difficulty grammarians have had in making satisfactory statements concerning English sentences.

The exclamatory sentence expresses strong emotion in the form of an exclamation or cry . . The interrogative sentence asks a question . . The declarative sentence states a fact. (Bryant 1945:99-102) Again the definitions furnish no practical help in sorting out our utterances. It is not enough to say that a sentence that 'asks a question' is an 'interrogative sentence', or that a sentence that 'gives a command' is an 'imperative sentence', or that a sentence that 'makes a statement' is a 'declarative sentence'.

Usually the hearer, in some inconspicuous but conventional way, gives the speaker signals of this continued attention. In telephone conversations these signals consist of brief oral sounds interjected at irregular intervals but not interrupting the speaker's span of talk. These brief oral sounds are not predictable, but, in a telephone conversation, if such a sequence of utterances occurs without oral signals of attention on the part of the hearer, the speaker usually interrupts his continuous discourse with such questions as do you hear me or are you (still) there.

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