Kjell Johan Sæbø
Building bridges: Themes in the work of Bergljot Behrens
Event semantics · discourse relations · causation · elaboration · translation
When Bergljot Behrens retires from her post as professor of English and translation studies, she leaves a rich legacy of insight into ways of describing events and of making meaningful connections among them. Starting with her 1998 dissertation, she has pioneered the comparative method in discourse semantics, showing how pairing up one language with one or more others can offer invaluable clues to meaning distinctions that may otherwise escape notice and to the contextual cues that make us select an interpretation. Particularly notable are the discoveries of the various modes of event unification that can be conveyed with non-finite structures in a language like English and the findings on coordination at different levels and on explicit markers of event linking in a language like Norwegian.
This highly original work has had a strong influence on scholars like Robyn Carston, Cathrine Fabricius-Hansen and myself, and in this talk, I will recount some highlights of it.