Non-iconic chronology in English narrative texts

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This article presents the results of a corpus investigation into the phenomenon of non-iconic chronology, which is understood here as the reversal of natural order of events at the textual micro-level, e.g. ‘I conquered after I came and saw’ as opposed to the well-known example of iconic order ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’. Although the general implications of chronological, or temporal, iconicity were widely discussed as early as the 1980s, little is known so far about how frequently non-iconic chronology occurs in real (rather than constructed) narrative texts, what sorts of text tend to be more temporally iconic or less temporally iconic, and what syntactic structures (coordinate or subordinate with particular temporal conjunctions) are most typically used to depict sequential events in a reversed textual order. An answer to these questions is attempted here on the basis of some 150 English literary texts.


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