Monday, March 09, 2015

Natural information flow

They default expectation of natural information flow is that focal information will be placed as close to the end of the clause as the typology of the language allows. Placing focal information in the P2 position represents the choice to take what was already the most important part of the clause (i.e., newly asserted, focal information) and to attract even more attention to it by moving it from its default position to a marked one. Linguists refer to this as marked focus.—Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament, page 190

<idle musing>
Position P2 is from Simon Dik's book, The Theory of Functional Grammar: Part I: The Structure of the Clause (FGS 9; Dordrecht; Providence, R.I.: Foris, 1989), a 400+ page book that I've got to little time, so many books : )

Here's what it looks like graphically, so you get an idea of what he's talking about. X is the normal spit for stuff that isn't "marked":

(P1) (P2) VERB X, where
::Position P1: may contain one or more established clause component;
::Position P2: may contain a nonestablished clause component,
::X represents the other nonverbal components of the clause.
Note: The parentheses around P1 and P2 means that they are optional.

Makes sense, doesn't it, especially for VSO languages such as Greek and Hebrew.
</idle musing>

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