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Locative inversion and presentative structures: a case study in English and Lithuanian

Violeta Kaledaite (Department of English Philology, Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas)

Locative inversion and the there-construction in English have enjoyed an exhaustive treatment in linguistic literature (cf. Birner 1996, Dorgeloh 1997, among others). The structurally diverse presentative construction without there, as in 'Outside a crowd had gathered', 'In the garden stood a sundial', and 'A woman stood on his step' is seldom treated as one well-defined structural category.

Lithuanian presentative constructions raise additional problems. It is a characteristic feature of Lithuanian syntax that the structuring of sentence constituents depends on the communicative intention and is governed by the principle of functional sentence perspective (FSP). Subject-verb inversion, therefore, does not represent a marked word order pattern.

The paper discusses locative inversion and presentative structures in the two languages from a contrastive perspective (Fisiak 1990, Krzeszowski 1990, Chesterman 1998). It aims at providing an account based on such parameters as basic word order patterns, the discourse function of inversion, the definiteness and indefiniteness of NPs, and the generation of additional (e.g. subjective) meanings through marked word order.

Birner, B.J. 1996. The discourse function of inversion in English. New York & London: Garland Publishing Inc.
Chesterman, A. 1998. Contrastive functional analysis. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Dorgeloh, H. 1997. Inversion in modern English: form and function. Amsterdam: John Benhamins.
Fisiak, J.(ed). 1990. Further insights into contrastive analysis. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Krzeszowski, T. 1990. Contrasting languages: the scope of contrastive linguistics. Berlin: Mouton.