Edited by Wei-lun Lu and Jirí Lukl
[Cognitive Linguistic Studies 7:2] 2020
► pp. 357–380
The article deals with sentence-initial time adverbials in English declarative sentences. Theoretically, it is grounded in functionally-oriented and discourse-based studies, trying to combine the study of syntactic structure, information structure, information flow, and cognitive-pragmatic aspects of discourse construction and interpretation. The aim is to examine some regularities regarding the interplay of their syntactic and pragmatic characteristics and their textual and pragmatic discourse functions. The corpus-based research includes several parameters: (1) syntactic – the form and functional subtype of initial time adverbials, and the syntactic structure of the sentences containing them; (2) pragmatic – related to the information status of initial time adverbials; (3) textual – dealing with semantic, formal and functional similarities between the initial time adverbials and the sentences containing them, and other adverbials and structures in the relevant language segment, as well as with the position of the initial time adverbials in the text. The identified discourse functions (textual and pragmatic) of the initial placement of time adverbials include linking with the previous and following text, rearranging the functional elements within a sentence, temporal scene-setting, creating two especially prominent positions in a sentence, signaling segment boundaries of textual units, etc. It is suggested that particular discourse functions, rather than being associated with one of the parameters examined, actually depend on the interrelatedness of several of them.