A Functional Approach to Subject Inversion
It has been argued by Kayne and Pollock (1978a-b) that, in French, full NP subject inversion (henceforth SI) can be reduced to a stylistic rule of the form Move NP, the application of which would be triggered by WH. To be descriptively accurate, a general analysis of SI would have to take into account on the one hand that not all WH-words are compatible with SI (e.g. *pourquoi part Jean?) as noted for instance by Cornulier (1974) and on the other that SI does occur in the absence of WH (e.g. in sentences with list interpretation, live coverage of sports events). These apparent exceptions can all be explained when we take into account a number of pragmatic factors such as focusing and discourse context. Taking these factors into account provides a basis for ex-plaing why some uses of SI are conditioned by style or register while others are not, and why consequently French syntax has to include at least two distinct rules of subject inversion.
Published online: 01 January 1981
Cited by other publications
Lauwers, Peter & Els Tobback
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