The iconic function of full<i> </i>inversion in English
Over the past few years, full inversion constructions in which the subject follows the entire verb phrase in a declarative clause have been the subject of extensive research (cf. Bresnan and Kanerva 1992a and 1992b, Schachter 1992, Birner 1996, Dorgeloh 1997, Chen 2003, Kreyer 2006), the focus of each individual study varying according to the nature and goals of the specific theoretical framework adopted. This paper offers a contrastive corpus-based analysis of a particular type of full inversion, namely prepositional phrase inversion (for example, “<i>On the table beside him </i>sat his crown, his sword and his dagger”), in English fictional and non-fictional texts. It is argued that in fictional prose prepositional phrase inversion can be considered a marker of spatial experiential iconicity through which the process of physical perception is reflected in the syntax, whereas in non-fiction prepositional phrase inversion is used merely as a text-structuring device.