On Preposing and Word Order Rigidity
Abstract: SOV languages are said to have less rigid word order than SVO languages because they allow scrambling. This study attempts to demonstrate that the 'freedom' of SOV languages is also expressed in the weaker functional and formal constraints on preposing in these languages compared to the constraints on preposing in verb-medial languages. A comparison is made of preposing in verb-final Hindi and Kashmiri and verb-medial English. The analytical framework of Prince (1981, 1984) and Ward (1985), in which (1) the referent of the preposed constitutent of English preposing marks a salient scalar relationship to another discourse entity, itself already evoked or saliently inferable from the discourse, and (2) the preposing is 'presuppositional' (cf. Jackendoff 1972) in that it marks an open proposition (OP) as salient in the discourse (cf. Prince 1981), is adopted in the evaluation of the constraints on Kashmiri and Hindi preposing and in the determination of their differences from English preposing. The study demonstrates that while preposing in the verb-final languages is more functionally constrained than fronting by scrambling, in that it marks an aspectual relationship to the preceding discourse and fronting by scrambling is not constrained to do this, it is less functionally constrained than preposing in verb-medial English. The OP of English preposing must be salient given. Hindi and Kashmiri preposing, on the other hand, are felicitous when the OP is shared knowledge given (cf. Prince 1981).
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