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Full-verb Inversion in Written and Spoken English


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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1. Full-verb Inversion in Present-day English:A Preliminary Account - 17


17 1. Full-verb Inversion in Present-day English: A Preliminary Account The term inversion has been used to refer to different, although re- lated, constructions in the literature on the topic. As a consequence, inversion has been understood very broadly. Green (1982: 120), for instance, defines inversions as “those declarative constructions where the subject follows part or all of its verb phrase”.1 As will be pointed out in section 1.1, this study concerns itself with a more restricted view of inversion; in particular, the focus will be on a specific type of inversion, namely so-called full-verb inversion. Section 1.2 offers an account of inversions which have been excluded from the present analysis, for reasons which will become clear later. After these pre- liminaries, 1.3 provides a formal classification of full-verb inversion types. Finally, section 1.4 briefly examines constructions such as ex- istential-‘there’, left-dislocation, preposing, and equative structures, which are close to full-verb inversion from a syntactic and pragmatic point of view, but nevertheless differ sufficiently as to be beyond the scope of this research. 1 There is no complete agreement among scholars as to what exactly is understood by verb phrase. According to Huddleston/Pullum (2002: 22), the term ‘verb phrase’ refers to “a verb group and its various complements”. By contrast, Quirk et al. (1985: 62) consider that “verb phrases consist of a main verb which either stands alone as the entire verb phrase, or is preceded by up to four verbs in an auxiliary function”. It is this...

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