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date: 09 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article explores the role of information structure (IS), syntax, and prosody in accounting for word order variation and change in the history of the English language. First discussing the theoretical problems involved in the study of the interaction between these components of grammar, it goes on to embed changes in the history of English in a wider picture of developments in the Germanic languages. Word order variation is similar in Old English and Old High German, but the two languages subsequently diverge into different directions. This article therefore compares the major word order changes of English, namely the loss of OV-orders and the loss of V2 in (non-negative) declarative clauses, with the generalization of V2 and the loss of VO-orders in the history of German. It argues for considering IS to be part of grammar, and it fosters the functionalist approach to the interaction between grammar and pragmatics, albeit from a formal syntactic perspective.

Keywords: information structure, syntax, prosody, word order, variation, history, English, Germanic, declarative clauses, grammar, pragmatics

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