Historical English Syntax
A statistical corpus-based study on the organisation of Early Modern English sentences
University of Vigo
In this monograph the author explores the syntactic organisation of declarative clauses from late Middle English to present-day English and pays special attention to the consequences which the location of the subject has for the determination of the unmarked word order in Early Modern English. The data have been taken from two electronic corpora, namely, The Helsinki Corpus of English Texts and the Lancaster/Oslo-Bergen Corpus of British English.
The author outlines his own concept of 'theme,' which will be useful for the (explanatory and descriptive) purposes of describing syntactic (un)markedness. Such a concept leads to the existence of, on the one hand, an unmarked SV organisation and, on the other, of several marked patterns, viz sentences introduced by existential there, instances of subject extraposition and insertion of it, clefts, topicalisations, left-dislocations and subject inversions. The subsystems just mentioned are located on a scale of markedness, according to two variables: first, frequency, which is investigated by way of the statistical analysis of the data, and, second, 'linguistic functionality.' This second variable has been examined in the light of variables such as gender, textual category, discourse taxonomy, orality and informative principles such as 'given before new' or end-weight.
Javier Pérez-Guerra lectures on English linguistics and corpus linguistics at the Department of English, University of Vigo. His research is focused on syntactic change from Early Modern English onwards.
ISBN 9783895866517. LINCOM Studies in Germanic Linguistics 11. 300pp. 1999.