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Full-verb Inversion in Written and Spoken English

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José Carlos Prado Alonso

This book presents a comprehensive corpus-based analysis of full-verb inversion in present-day English. The author examines the distribution and pragmatic functions of full-verb inversion in different fictional and non-fictional text styles as well as in the spoken language. Surprisingly enough, inversion in oral communication has not yet received the attention it deserves, since most work on the topic has been restricted to the written language. It has often been claimed that full-verb inversion occurs mainly in written discourse, but these claims have not yet been backed up by a detailed corpus-based analysis. This book provides a more conclusive picture of the distribution of full inversion in speech and writing and analyses the distinct pragmatic functions that the construction serves in these two modes of communication.

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Introduction - 13

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13 Introduction Over the past few years, full-verb inversion, as one instantiation of a large variety of noncanonical word-order phenomena, has been a favourite topic of research in English linguistics from a functional perspective (cf. Birner 1996; Dorgeloh 1997; Chen 2003; Kreyer 2006 among others). This study is a further contribution to this line of research and attempts to present a comprehensive corpus-based analysis of full-verb inversion in written and spoken Present-day English texts. Despite the above-mentioned body of research on inversion, there are still aspects which either call for further clarification or have been utterly neglected. For instance, in recent work on inver- sion, there is not complete agreement as regards the distribution of full inversion in written fictional and non-fictional texts. On the one hand, works such as Green (1982), Denison (1998) or Biber et al. (1999) suggest that the construction is more frequent in fictional texts. On the other hand, studies such as Kreyer (2006) claim the opposite, that is, that full inversion is more common in non-fictional texts. The first aim of this study is to clarify this point. It will be demonstrated that fictional and non-fictional written English texts do not differ in the overall distribution of the construction, but rather in the different types of full inversions used, and the different func- tions that these inversions serve in both genres. A second aspect which will be examined in the study is full inversion in the spoken language. Surprisingly enough, inversion in this mode of...

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