Volume 1, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0929-998X
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9765
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This paper, which is based on a corpus of contemporary Australian English, investigates the structural and communicative properties of extraposed clause constructions. Such constructions will often be superficially similar to right-dislocated constructions, but are generally distinguishable from these on structural, communicative and prosodie grounds. If there are no grammatical factors impeding extraposition (such as a matrix predicate containing a subordinate clause or an identified complement), then finite and infinitival clauses may be freely extraposed. Present-participials, which are more highly nominalised, extrapose less freely. The matrix predicate, which typically expresses an 'objectified epistemic or moral judgement, exhibits a variety of structural patterns. Dominant among these is the 'Subject~Predicator~Predicative Complement' pattern, with the complement most commonly realised as an adjectival phrase.Three communicative factors which influence extraposition may be identified: 'weight*, information, and theme. The data suggest that there is strong pressure in English to avoid sentences with a clause as subject in initial position and a comparatively light matrix predicate in final position. Non-extraposed sentences with a clausal subject in fact require special rhetorical and/or cohesive motivation, their infrequent occurrence reflecting the preferred 'given - before -new' ordering found in English. Just as important as the end-positioning of material in extraposition is the initialisation of an expression of the speaker's angle, enabling it to serve as the theme.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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