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Preverbal positions in three Germanic languages: The role of scope as a functional principle

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This study investigates the opposition between intra-clausal and extra-clausal positions in the preverbal domain in English, German and Dutch. It is argued that some of the traditional criteria used to distinguish between these positions, especially the criterion of pronominal resumption, are not entirely reliable, and a number of new criteria are introduced, including distribution in non-declarative contexts. On the basis of these descriptive refinements, it is proposed that the opposition between intra-clausal and extra-clausal positions can be defined functionally in terms of the scope of illocution markers: the intra-clausal position falls within the scope of illocution, whereas the extra-clausal position is outside its scope. This functional generalization does not only help to explain the various formal criteria that distinguish the two positions, but it is also in line with their typical discourse functions.

Keywords: Dutch/English/German; scope; word order

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2003

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  • International Journal for Contrastive Linguistics

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