Basic distribution of Communicative Dynamism vs. Nonlinear Indication of Functional Sentence Perspective

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The present paper is concerned with the interaction of two word order principles, the grammatical and functional sentence perspective (FSP). The respective hierarchic status of the two word order principles was first examined by Vilém Mathesius (1929, 1975: 153-160), who by comparing English and Czech revealed an essential difference in that English word order primarily serves to indicate grammatical relationships, whereas Czech word order is primarily governed by FSP. By functional sentence perspective is meant the distribution of information, or degrees of communicative dynamism (CD), over the elements of a sentence. Here a general principle appears to be found in a gradual increase in CD, culminating in end focus (Quirk et al. 1985: 18.3). Where the sentence structure is consistent with this gradual increase in CD, i.e. where the least dynamic element, the theme, occurs initially, and the most dynamic element, the rheme, or focus, is found at the end, with transitional elements coming in between, we speak of basic distribution of communicative dynamism (Firbas 1992: 10).


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