Inversion in Modern English
Form and function
The book offers a comprehensive study of the different forms of subject-verb and subject-auxiliary-inversion in Modern English declarative sentences. It treats inversion as a speaker-based decision for reordering within a fairly rigid word order system and identifies the meaning of the construction in terms of point of view and speaker subjectivity. This semantic claim is tested against the occurrence, as well as the absence, of the different forms of inversion in natural discourse.<br />The analysis of the pragmatics and discourse function of inversion is based on the LOB and the Brown corpus and takes into account various textual relations: British and American English, written mode, style, text type, genre. The results suggest a strong affinity with the greater or lesser subjectivity of a text: the construction is a marker of interpersonal meaning. Provided the context is one of relative unexpectedness, it additionally becomes a discourse marker, which points to the limited value of quantitative corpus data in functional syntax.