• Submitted By: nibbletik
  • Date Submitted: 03/12/2009 11:15 AM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 1665
  • Page: 7
  • Views: 335

Inversion in modern written English

Syntactic complexity, information status and the creative writer

[PhD-Project, completed]

Full-verb inversion, as one type of a large variety of non-canonical word-order phenomena, has received a considerable amount of attention over the last few decades. Studies on inversion include approaches in various generative and transformational frameworks and analyses from backgrounds as diverse as functional and (most recently) cognitive linguistics. This study is an attempt to provide a comprehensive corpus-based account of inversion in written modern English within a discourse-functional framework.

In particular, the analysis involves the discussion of three possible factors that might exert their influence on inverted constructions. The first is syntactic complexity, which has been shown to be a powerful factor in regard to word order variations on phrasal and clausal level. The present study shows that the vast majority of inverted construction contain a postverbal constituent that is far heavier than the preverbal one. Even extreme cases of imbalance as in [1] and [2] below are not at all rare in the corpus that was analysed.


At opposite extremes are the 'seamless web of learning' party who would appear to argue that integration is so noble in itself that it should be undertaken whether teachers can handle it or not, and the committed and dogmatic subject specialist with a bookful of behavioural objectives and forty pages of sequenced syllabus to back them up. (BNC_BLY: 1112)


More seriously sacrilegious is surely Saint Pierre et le jongleur, Saint Peter and the jongleur, in which a jongleur's soul goes off to Hell with a number of other satirically identified characters jousting men, usurers, thieves, bishops, priests, monks, abbots, knights but presents itself, incongruously, as that of a relatively good character, anxious, for instance, to please its new infernal master (in a...

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