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Sociolinguistics from the Periphery

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Academic Paper


Title: Syntactic complexity, discourse status and animacy as determinants of grammatical variation in Modern English
Author: Elena Seoane
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://www.usc.es/ia303/ElenaSeoane/SeoanePosse.htm
Institution: Universidade de Santiago de Compostela
Linguistic Field: Pragmatics; Semantics; Syntax
Subject Language: English
Abstract: The aim of this article is to provide an overview of the syntactic, pragmatic and semantic determinants of word-order variation in Modern English, exemplified by the specific case of the use of long passives as order-rearranging devices. Word order in English and in most other SVO languages is affected by a number of factors such as animacy, semantic role, discourse status and syntactic complexity (Sornicola 2006). In this article, which analyses the influence of such factors in the use of long passives, I will try to show that their effects are construction-specific; in particular, that factors which are crucial in determining word order in some constructions – factors such as the animacy of the constituents involved – are entirely overruled by others in the case of Modern English long passives. Corpus data presented here will also serve to address issues pertaining to the nature of the determinants of grammatical variation, such as their independent versus epiphenomenal character, their interactions, and the locus of their effects on word order.

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN English Language and Linguistics Vol. 13, Issue 3.

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