Syntactic forms of the presentation scale and their differentiation

Číslo v periodiku: 

Místo vydání:

Rok vydání:


Typ publikace:



The present paper is concerned with the different syntactic constructions in which the first participant in verbal action has the FSP function of rheme. In context-independent sentences this configuration is primarily found in sentences realizing the presentation scale (in Firbas’s terminology, cf. 1992: 66-69, 109-110, 134-140), i.e. in sentences with verbs of existence or appearance which present a phenomenon on the scene. There being only one participant in verbal action, it is syntactically construed as the subject. However, expression of this semantic content is not confined to just one realization form in English, which raises the question to what extent the variant realization forms of the presentation scale are interchangeable or differentiated, and, in the latter case, in which respects.
The following discussion is based on an analysis of three samples of contemporary fiction (see Sources), each providing 500 clauses taken from continuous text, i.e. a total of 1 500 clauses. To obtain a textually homogeneous sample, attention was paid only to the authors’ monologue, i.e. direct speech was excluded on account of the differences between monologue and dialogue on the one hand, and the different role of intonation in speech and writing on the other. In written language the role of intonation as an indicator of FSP is of minor impor-tance insofar as in this medium intonation largely constitutes a concomitant feature of an FSP structure primarily indicated by other means, viz contextual boundness, syntactico-semantic structure and linear arrangement (Firbas 1992: 10-11, 115, Sgall et al. 1986: 3.10-3.13).
The frequency of occurrence of the presentation scale appears to be relatively low: 88 instances within the total of 1 500 clauses, i.e. 5.09%. In the following discussion the relative frequency of occurrence of the different realization forms of the presentation scale is considered within the subset of the 88 instances of the presentation scale.


DUŠKOVÁ, LIBUŠE, 1971, “On some functional and stylistic aspects of the passive in present-day English”, Philologica Pragensia 14, 117-143.
DUŠKOVÁ, LIBUŠE, 1977, “A note on there is in present-day English”, Philologica Pragensia 20, 97-105.
FIRBAS, JAN, 1980, “Post-intonation-centre prosodic shade in the modern English clause”, In: S. Greenbaum, G. Leech and J. Svartvik, Studies in English Linguistics for Randolph Quirk, 125-133, London.
FIRBAS, JAN, 1992, Functional Sentence Perspective in Written and Spoken Communication, Cambridge University Press.
QUIRK, R., S. GREENBAUM, G. LEECH AND J. SVARTVIK, 1985, A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, London, Longman.
SGALL, P., E. HAJIČOVÁ AND J. PANEVOVÁ, 1986, The Meaning of the Sentence in its Semantic and Pragmatic Aspects, Dordrecht, Reidel.
SVOBODA, ALEŠ, 1981, Diatheme, Masaryk University, Brno.