Word order and linear modification in English

Source document: Brno studies in English. 2009, vol. 35, iss. 2, pp. [17]-28
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
License: Not specified license
The paper examines the role of linear modification in shaping the syntactic structure of an English sentence. Linear modification – the principle of presenting ideas in an order of gradual rise in importance – co-determines word order in all Indo-European languages, though it is less powerful in languages with fixed word order than in languages with flexible word order. English syntax changed quite significantly on the way from Old English to Modern English. The shift from flexible word order to fixed word order, which was closely related to certain phonological and morphological features of English, was accompanied by a reduction of the power of linear modification as a word-order principle. The paper tests this reduction by an analysis of written Old English and Modern English texts.
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