Article published in:Opening Windows on Texts and Discourses of the Past
Edited by Janne Skaffari, Matti Peikola, Ruth Carroll, Risto Hiltunen and Brita Wårvik
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 134] 2005
► pp. 259–277
‘Ther been thinges thre, the whiche thynges troublen al this erthe’
The discourse-pragmatics of ‘demonstrative which’
This paper describes and analyses the origin, development, structure, and use ofwhichas a demonstrative element. This largely qualitative study shows that demonstrativewhichhad its heyday in the late Middle English and early Modern English periods. The subsequent reduction of both type and token frequency is seen in the context of both structural and sociolinguistic factors, e.g., the doubly-filled COMP filter and standardisation. From a functional point of view, its use is related to information structuring and the organisation of discourse through pragmatic markers. As a discourse marker, it refers back to a previously mentioned element and, at the same time, marks the end of one topic and provides a clear starting point for the next.
Published online: 24 March 2005