Discourse-structuring functions of initial adverbials in English and Norwegian news and fiction
This chapter explores the discourse-structuring functions of initial adverbial adjuncts in English and Norwegian news and fiction. Such discourse functions have to do with discourse linking and information management. The corpus study reveals frequency differences in the use of initial adjuncts across the languages, which are to some extent connected with an overall greater frequency of adjuncts in Norwegian. While initial adjuncts in fiction often signal cohesive relations, those in news are more typically due to backgrounding of less important information or to framing/scene-setting for the clause message. Norwegian initial adjuncts are even less likely than English ones to convey new information; on the other hand, initial position is to a lesser extent associated with contrastive focus in Norwegian. This, together with the higher frequency of initial adjuncts in Norwegian, suggests that initial placement of adjuncts carries a lower degree of markedness in Norwegian than in English.