English inversions as constructional alloforms

Betty Birner


This paper analyzes English inversion as an 'alloform' (Birner 2013) of both preposing and postposing. Birner 1996b analyzes inversion as subject to a negative constraint, disallowing new before old information. The need for this constraint vanishes, however, if inversion is viewed as being an alloform of preposing in cases where the preposed information is discourse-old, and an alloform of postposing in cases where the postposed information is discourse-new. Cases that satisfy both constraints are ambiguous between preposing and postposing, the infelicity of cases that satisfy neither constraint falls out automatically, and additional properties of inversion are readily explained.


inversion; preposing; postposing; information structure; alloforms

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.3765/plsa.v1i0.3718

Copyright (c) 2016 Betty Birner

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