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The extraposition of clausal subjects in English and Swedish

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Abstract

This study compares the extraposition of subject clauses in two samples of English and Swedish original texts and their translations from the English-Swedish Parallel Corpus. It finds a more frequent usage of extrapositions in the Swedish sample. This is due to formal, syntactic, semantic and pragmatic differences between the two languages (e.g. the existence of a gerund -ing form in English but not in Swedish, the V2 constraint in Swedish, and the greater semantic scope and tolerance of new information in English subjects), all of which make it possible for more information to be placed in preverbal position in English than in Swedish. The study also finds that subject clauses are more frequent in general in the Swedish sample, both when they are extraposed and when they are retained in preverbal position. This appears to be due to a greater tendency for process meanings to be nominalised in English.

References

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