Edited by Sylviane Granger and Marie-Aude Lefer
[Languages in Contrast 20:2] 2020
► pp. 264–288
Placement patterns of English and French conjunctive adjuncts of contrast
The impact of register
In many languages, conjunctive adjuncts (e.g. however, therefore) are syntactically mobile. Several corpus-based contrastive studies have shown that languages differ in the positions that they tend to prefer for conjunctive adjuncts. However, the studies available have formulated general cross-linguistic differences in placement for languages as wholes, without considering the possibility that such contrasts may be influenced by register. The objective of this paper is to investigate and compare the placement patterns of English and French conjunctive adjuncts of contrast in two written registers (viz. editorials and research articles) in order to measure the impact of register variation on the differences between these two languages. The results suggest that, although register variation plays a significant role on placement within each language system, language is a better predictor of placement than register, since cross-linguistic differences in placement between English and French are stable across communicative situations. In a second stage, the results obtained in the comparable corpus study are complemented with the analysis of translation data, with a view to assessing the translators’ degree of awareness of the inherent word order preferences of the target language. The study is grounded in the framework of Systemic Functional Linguistics and relies on the notions of Theme and Rheme to describe conjunctive adjunct placement.