Information Status and Noncanonical Word Order in English

| University of Pennsylvania
| Northwestern University
HardboundAvailable
ISBN 9789027230430 (Eur) | EUR 115.00
ISBN 9781556199264 (USA) | USD 173.00
 
e-Book
ISBN 9789027281906 | EUR 115.00 | USD 173.00
 
This work provides a comprehensive discourse-functional account of three classes of noncanonical constituent placement in English – preposing, postposing, and argument reversal – and shows how their interaction is accounted for in a principled and predictive way. In doing so, it details the variety of ways in which information can be 'given' or 'new' and shows how an understanding of this variety allows us to account for the distribution of these constructions in discourse. Moreover, the authors show that there exist broad and empirically verifiable functional correspondences within classes of syntactically similar constructions.
Relying heavily on corpus data, the authors identify three interacting dimensions along which individual constructions may vary with respect to the pragmatic constraints to which they are sensitive: old vs. new information, relative vs. absolute familiarity, and discourse- vs. hearer-familiarity. They show that preposed position is reserved for information that is linked to the prior discourse by means of a contextually licensed partially-ordered set relationship; postposed position is reserved for information that is 'new' in one of a small number of distinct senses; and argument-reversing constructions require that the information represented by the preverbal constituent be at least as familiar within the discourse as that represented by the postverbal constituent. Within each of the three classes of constructions, individual constructions vary with respect to whether they are sensitive to familiarity within the discourse or (assumed) familiarity within the hearer's knowledge store. Thus, although the individual constructions in question are subject to distinct constraints, this work provides empirical evidence for the existence of strong correlations between sentence position and information status. The final chapter presents crosslinguistic data showing that these correlations are not limited to English.
[Studies in Language Companion Series, 40]  1998.  xiv, 314 pp.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments
xi
1. Introduction
1
Preposing and Postposing Constructions
2
Theoretical Framework
9
Data
27
Notational Conventions
29
2. Preposing
31
Topicalization
38
Focus Preposing
83
Left-Dislocation
93
Summary
95
3. Postposing
97
General Constraints
99
Definites in ‘There’-Sentences
113
Right-Dislocation
145
Summary
153
4. Argument Reversal
155
Inversion
156
Passivization
194
PP Preposing with ‘There’-Insertion
205
Summary
211
5. Noncanonical Word Order and Discourse Structure
213
Commonalities and Differences Across Constructions
214
Linking Relations and Noncanonical Word Order
218
Open Propositions and Locative Constituents
235
Intonation
245
Toward a Unified Theory of Noncanonical Word Order
255
6. Extensions and Implications
259
Crosslinguistic Extensions
259
Summary of Constraints on Noncanonical Word Order
275
Theoretical Implications
280
Appendix
285
References
289
Index
307
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Subjects
BIC Subject: CF – Linguistics
BISAC Subject: LAN009000 – LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  98006210