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Micro-change and Macro-change in Diachronic Syntax$
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Eric Mathieu and Robert Truswell

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198747840

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198747840.001.0001

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The pragmatics of demonstratives in Germanic

The pragmatics of demonstratives in Germanic

(p.182) 12 The pragmatics of demonstratives in Germanic
Micro-change and Macro-change in Diachronic Syntax

Caitlin Light

Oxford University Press

This chapter will seek to demonstrate that demonstrative pronouns in Germanic are inherently pragmatically contrastive, in that they conventionally signal a marked and unexpected referent given the existing discourse structure. Data on object topicalization show that in information-structurally driven operations, demonstrative pronouns pattern more like contrastive elements than like non-contrastive ones. In this way they can be analysed as subinformative in the sense of Gast (2010), with an information-structural function not unlike contrastive topics. This conclusion leads us to a better understanding of the behaviour of demonstrative pronouns in discourse. Thus, a careful consideration of information-structural phenomena leads to insight into both crucial details of the grammar, and how these issues relate to language in use.

Keywords:   information structure, topicalization, comparative Germanic, pronoun, demonstrative

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