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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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5. Summary and Conclusions - 219


219 5. Summary and Conclusions This study has presented the findings of a comprehensive corpus- based analysis of the various forms of full-verb inversion in written and spoken Present-day English. What follows is a summary of this analysis, together with the main conclusions, organised by chapter and section as in the study itself. Chapter 1 offered some theoretical preliminaries. Section 1.1 provided a definition of the term full-verb inversion, which has re- ceived a host of different names in the literature: inversion-over-verb (Green 1985), Type-A inversion (Stein 1995), subject-verb inversion (Biber et al. 1999), and subject-dependent inversion (Huddleston/ Pullum 2002), among others. The construction was defined as a syn- tactic structure in which “the subject occurs in postposed position while some other dependent of the verb is preposed” (Huddleston/ Pullum 2002: 1385). It was distinguished from subject-operator in- version, which refers to those syntactic structures in which “the sub- ject is preceded by the operator rather than by the main verb or a full verb phrase” (Biber et al. 1999: 911). Section 1.2 dealt with an account of the inversion types which, for methodological reasons, were excluded from the analysis. This involved cases of verb-first inversions, that is, inversions in which the verb was the first syntactic constituent in the clause. The motiva- tion for this exclusion was that the scope of the research was re- stricted to the analysis of verb-second inversions in declarative clauses, that is, inversions in which the verb is placed in second position within the...

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