Description : This volume brings together a collection of 18 papers dealing with the problem of word order variation in discourse. Word order variation has often been treated as an essentially unpredictable phenomenon, a matter of selecting randomly one of the set of possible orders generated by the grammar. However, as the papers in this collection show, word order variation is not random, but rather governed by principles which can be subjected to scientific investigation and are common to all languages.The papers in this volume discuss word order variation in a diverse collection of languages and from a number of perspectives, including experimental and quantitative text based studies. A number of papers address the problem of deciding which order is 'basic' among the alternatives. The volume will be of interest to typologists, to other linguists interested in problems of word order variation, and to those interested in discourse syntax.
Description : Integrating various aspects of human communication traditionally treated in a number of separate disciplines, Olga T. Yokoyama develops a universal model of the smallest unit of informational discourse, and uncovers the regularities that govern the intentional verbal transfer of knowledge from one interlocutor to another. The author then places these processes within a new framework of Communicational Competence, which legitimizes certain nebulous but important linguistic phenomena hitherto caught in a noman's land between the formal and functional approaches to language. Russian word order, a classical problem of Slavic linguistics, is subjected to a rigorous examination within this theoretical framework; Yokoyama demonstrates how this “free word order language” can only be described by taking into account such generally neglected factors as the speakers' subjectivity and attitude. Of particular interest to Slavists is a new generative theory of Russian intonation, which is consistently incorporated into the description of Russian word order.
Description : For some time the assumption has been widely held that for a majority of the world's languages, one can identify a “basic” order of subject and object relative to the verb, and that when combined with other facts of the language, the “basic” order constitutes a useful way of typologizing languages. New debate has arisen over varying definitions of “basic”, with investigators encountering languages where branding a particular order of grammatical relations as basic yielded no particular insightfulness. This work asserts that explanatory factors behind word order variation go beyond the syntactic and are to be found in studies of how the mind grammaticizes forms, processes information, and speech act theory considerations of speakers' attempts to get their hearers to build one, rather than another, mental representation of incoming information. Thus three domains must be distinguished in understanding order variation: syntactic, cognitive and pragmatic. The works in this volume explore various aspects of this assertion.
Description : This volume is a collection of studies on various aspects of word order variation in Turkish. As a head-final, left-branching ‘free’ word order language, Turkish raises a number of significant theory-internal as well as language-particular questions regarding linearization in language. Each of the contributions in the present volume offers a fresh insight into a number of these questions, thus, while expanding our knowledge of the language-particular properties of the word order phenomena, also contribute individually to the theory of linearization in general. Turkish is a configurational language. It licenses constructions in which constituents can occur in non-canonical presubject as well as postverbal positions. Presented within the assumptions of the generative tradition, the discussion and analyses of the various aspects of the linearization facts of the language offer a novel treatment of the issues therein. The authors approach the word order phenomena from a variety of perspectives, ranging from purely syntactic treatments, to accounts as syntax-PF interface or syntax-discourse interface phenomena or as output of base generation.
Description : 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.