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Information StructureTheoretical, Typological, and Experimental Perspectives$
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Malte Zimmermann and Caroline Féry

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199570959

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199570959.001.0001

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Effects of givenness and constraints on free word order *

Effects of givenness and constraints on free word order *

(p.307) 13 Effects of givenness and constraints on free word order*
Information Structure

Stavros Skopeteas

Gisbert Fanselow (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The preference for given information to precede new has already been identified in the earliest studies on information structure within the framework of the Prague School linguistics. In chapter 12 ‘Effects of givenness and constraints on free word order’, Stavros Skopeteas and Gisbert Fanselow present production data from ten different languages showing that cross‐linguistically two distinct syntactic operations are employed as a result of asymmetries in givenness: object fronting (scrambling) and passivization. They account for the typological variation in terms of the type of movement that is structurally available in a language. Givenness asymmetries (optionally) induce operations involving A‐movement (either of the object scrambling type or of the passivization type), while they generally do not induce operations involving A’‐movement. The cross‐linguistic complementarity between passive voice and object fronting as well as the optionality in the reported data support the view that A‐movement is semantically and pragmatically vacuous and is optionally selected in order to fulfill conditions at the discourse interface.

Keywords:   givenness, word order, passivization, A‐movement, A’‐movement

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