Edited by Andreas H. Jucker, Daniela Landert, Annina Seiler and Nicole Studer-Joho
[Studies in Language Companion Series 148] 2013
► pp. 211–230
The present paper discusses the ordering of main and adverbial subordinate clauses in the fifteenth-century Paston letters and tests whether there is continuity between Middle English and Present-day English discourse organizations. The adverbial clauses investigated in the following discussion are those introduced by if, though (although), when, because (be cause), and till (until). It is known that in contemporary English, conditional clauses tend to precede the main clause, whereas causal clauses are likely to follow the main clause. Moreover, temporal clauses like when-clauses and till-clauses present intermediate situations, according to Diessel (2001, 2005). This is largely applicable to Middle English, but there are some additional features worthy of note in the Paston letters. The ordering between main and subordinate clauses seems to be conditioned by: (1) information structure, (2) the length of subordinate clauses, and (3) the juxtaposition of two subordinating conjunctions.
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