22nd Mar 2010Posted in: Linguistics, Research 1
The Pragmatic Functions of Non-Canonical Word Orders


In a conversation, speakers employ different conversational strategies to achieve different purposes. For instance, often times a purposefully made change in the syntactic structure can give certain explicit or sometimes subtle messages to the hearers. For instance, instead of saying directly “Please pass me the salt,” we might say “Could you pass me the salt?1” In changing the sentence from an imperative mood to an interrogative mood, the speaker employs a negative politeness strategy and indicates his respect of the hearer’s willingness to pass the salt.

The interaction between syntactic structures and pragmatic functions has been an interesting and inspiring topic for many past scholars, who have already done a number of researches on it. They have studied, for instance, the functions of different moods, different interrogative forms (wh-questions, yes-no questions, tag questions, etc.) and so on and so forth. However, studies on dislocated structures, which we refer to as non-canonical constructions here, are relatively few. These non-canonical constructions are, however, quite commonly found in colloquial usages as they seem to serve a wide range of pragmatic purposes even at first glimpses. The present study is thus interested in systematically studying the pragmatic functions of three specific non-canonical constructions, namely topicalization (TOP), left dislocation (LD) and right dislocation (RD).

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One Response

  1. Xiuzhen Xu says:

    Iam Chinese, I’m quite interested in the functions of left dislocation in English and in Chinese ,but how can I read the full article? Can I have the address of the writer and contact with him or her? Please send the information to my email box if I can have your help.thanks.

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