Word Order, Information Structure, and Discourse Relations

Kristin Bech

in Information Structure and Syntactic Change in the History of English

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199860210
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949601 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in the History of English

Word Order, Information Structure, and Discourse Relations

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This chapter explores the connection between word order and discourse relations in Old English (OE), while also taking information structure into account. The focus is on verb-final declarative clauses. It first introduces framework for the analysis of discourse relations and then presents data showing the development of verb-final word order from Old to Middle English. It then outlines the relation between verb-final word order and information structure. Finally, it analyzes and studies the discourse relations of verb-final clauses in some detail, with reference to the distinction between coordinating and subordinating discourse relations as outlined in Segmented Discourse Representation Theory. The basic idea is that some parts of the text play a subordinate role relative to other parts. The chapter shows that verb-final main clauses in OE are primarily associated with discourse coordination rather than subordination. In other words, verb-final clauses do not contrast with V2 clauses with respect to discourse relations, and it therefore remains unclear whether discourse relations play a role in word order variation in Old English.

Keywords: word order; discourse relations; Old English; information structure; verb-final declarative clauses; Middle English; Segmented Discourse Representation Theory

Chapter.  10303 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Linguistics

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