Chapter

The Connectives <i>And</i>, <i>For</i>, <i>But</i>, and <i>Only</i> as Clause and Discourse Type Indicators in 16th- and 17th-Century Epistolary Prose

Anneli Meurman-Solin

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199860210.003.0008

Series: Oxford Studies in the History of English

The Connectives And, For, But, and Only as Clause and Discourse Type Indicators in 16th- and 17th-Century Epistolary Prose

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This chapter investigates the interface between syntax and information structure by concentrating on issues of processing information and constructing a text, drawing on chiefly sixteenth- and seventeenth-century data representing the single genre of letters. The main focus of interest is the perceived differences between grammars of writing prose in the evolution of prose genres. One type of difference can be depicted by polarizing a prose grammar that uses coordinator-like connectives such as and, but, and for as structuring devices at the levels of discourse and text and one that exploits semantically explicit, syntactically hierarchizing subordinators at the clause and sentence level, frequently also making use of either semantically explicit or looser adverbial connectors, the latter called “transitional,” at the levels of text and discourse. Besides providing a quantitative analysis, the chapter aims to illustrate that not only the role of genre but also that of the evolving grammars and registers of writing (conventionalized variably depending on the varying levels of linguistic and stylistic literacy of the writers) should be carefully considered in assessing what implications information-structural properties have upon syntactic variation and change.

Keywords: syntax; information structure; information processing; text construction; grammars; prose writing

Chapter.  14962 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Linguistics

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