ERIC Number: ED317058
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1989-Dec
Reference Count: N/A
A Semantico-Pragmatic Taxonomy of English Inversion.
Birner, Betty J.; Ward, Gregory L.
The correlation of syntactic form with discourse function has become a central research area in linguistic pragmatics and discourse analysis. Most studies have proceeded on a construction-by-construction basis, failing to note significant generalizations across sentence types. One significant exception identifies a set presuppositional constructions in English that mark an "open proposition" in discourse as salient shared knowledge. This generalization is applied here to the class of inversion constructions. An inversion is a sentence in which the logical subject noun phrase appears in the post-verbal position. It is proposed that two semantically distinct types of inversion exist, corresponding to two distinct discourse functions. Non-locative inversion serves to mark an open proposition as salient shared knowledge in the discourse, and locative inversion serves to present relatively familiar information in subject position. Moreover, the fact that locative inversion does not require a salient open proposition suggests that the two inversion types may have distinct syntactic representation as well. A brief bibliography is included. (MSE)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America (Washington, DC, December 27-30, 1989).