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‘Ye whom the charms of grammar please’

Studies in English Language History in Honour of Leiv Egil Breivik

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Edited By Kari Haugland, Kevin McCafferty and Kristian A. Rusten

This collection of articles by colleagues and students of Leiv Egil Breivik presents studies within both core and peripheral areas of English historical linguistics. Core topics covered include the development of existential there and related phenomena, word order, the evolution of adverbials, null subjects from Old to Early Modern English, pragmatics and information structure and aspects of discourse. Contributors also address the emergence of new syntactic constructions in the past and present, language contact and aspects of style in Early Modern English letters and medical texts. The ideological discourses of children’s dictionaries and medieval letters of defence are also explored.
The essays are all empirical studies, based on a wide range of corpora (both historical and contemporary) and applying theoretical approaches informed by Systemic-Functional Grammar, grammaticalization theory, dependency grammar, historical linguistics, sociolinguistics and corpus linguistic methods. Issues of methodology, statistics and corpus construction and annotation are also addressed in several contributions.
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Kristin Bech: Non-specificity and genericity in information structure annotation

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← 272 | 273 → KRISTIN BECH

Non-specificity and genericity in information structure annotation1

1 Introduction

Recent years have seen an upsurge in work on the relation between syntax and information structure in various languages and various stages of these languages. Much has been revealed about the interplay between information structure and syntax, but there is still much we do not know, not least whether information structure is part of the syntax, or whether it is mapped onto the syntactic structure. In order to be able to dig deeper and reveal further layers of the workings of the language system, corpora annotated for information structure are being developed, and various annotation schemes for information structure are being tested and put to use. Reporting on one such project, the present paper aims to exemplify and discuss the method used, and present some preliminary findings. The information structure categories used in the project are presented, and one of the distinctions that create problems in practical annotation, namely non-specificity versus genericity, is considered in some detail.

The paper is structured as follows: Section 2 presents the corpus and briefly describes the layers of morphological and syntactic annotation, whereas Section 3 outlines and exemplifies the annotation scheme for information structure. Section 4 considers some general findings with ← 273 | 274 → regard to information structure, before zooming in on non-specificity and genericity. Section 5 concludes.

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