It-extraposition in English
A functional view
This paper investigates the communicative use ofit-extraposition (e.g.It is surprising that John went to London) in texts, based on a corpus analysis of 1,701 instances in the British component of theInternational Corpus of English. Contrary to the wayit-extraposition is often treated in the literature, it does not represent a uniform functional category whose communicative purpose arises mainly from its status as the stylistically unmarked counterpart of non-extraposition. An analysis of the information status of the extraposed subject shows that it is possible to distinguish two basic types (Given Complement Extraposition and New Complement Extraposition) which differ fundamentally in their communicative potential and distribution in different (spoken and written) text types. For each of the two informational types a number of specific uses in texts are identified taking into account thematic structure (topic-comment) and the semantic nature of the matrix predicate.
Keywords: information structure, functional grammar, text linguistics, it-extraposition
Published online: 14 June 2005
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