Discourse function of inverted passives in Makua-Marevone narratives

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Inverted passives are thetic sentence constructions with post-verbal subjects and passivized verbs. In order to give a functional explanation for this marked structure in Makua-Marevone, two main sources are consulted, mental representation of propositions and texts (Lambrecht 1994), and thematic dimensions as described in text linguistics (Dooley & Levinsohn 2000). The measurement for prominence used for the data from oral folktales is based on text frequency, reactivation times and maximum active span. A “narrative script” is being developed, predicting default encoding of referents and their expected activation status. The employment of inverted passives in Makua-Marevone narratives is found to signal to the audience that the speaker intends to use referents contained in the proposition in a way different from what the narrative script would predict: They attribute increased prominence to inanimate referents, and link thematic dimensions that are normally separate.


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