Bækken, Bjørg: Word order in 17th century English

Bækken, Bjørg: Word order in 17th century English

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This book presents the results of a corpus-based study of the surface order of subject and finite verb in 17th century English, covering declarative main clauses starting with a non-subject element. The aim of the study is to examine English word order as reflected in the corpus and the diachronic changes that may be evident during the period concerned. An important part of the presentation consists in detailed descriptions of the various word order patterns that emerge. Additionally, the data is analysed pragmatically with respect to the information structure of sentences, thus trying to establish to what extent the sequential organization of a sentence depends on the information structure of the sentence elements. The investigation shows the situation with regard to word order in 17th century English to be in many respects unsettled, and the stabilisation of the XSV order emerges as an uneven process. A recurrent feature of the data is a wave-like development of the XVS order over time, suggesting that the decline of the XVS order with the eventual stabilisation of XSV is not a unidirectional process with one pattern regularly increasing at the expense of the other, rather it appears to have progressed by leaps and bounds.

Bjørg Bækken was Associate Professor of English Language at the University of Bergen.

ISSN 0333-4791

ISBN 978-82-7099-377-8


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