Essays on Time-Based Linguistic Analysis

By Charles-James N. Bailey | Go to book overview

5
Reversals in Marked Categories and Contexts, with the Pragmatic Principle of Reading between the Lines in the Presence of Marked Usages

I

In English, prepositions precede their objects in those ordinary clauses in which the object of the verb follows the verb; e.g. She bought a book for them. But in those--relative and interrogative--clauses in English in which a relativized or queried object of an adposition is moved to the beginning of the clause so as to precede the verb, we normally (see Bailey 1986d for descriptive rules; cf. Bailey 1992a: 113-14) strand the adposition after the verb as a postposition; e.g. the person she gave it to; What did they do it for? In exhibiting this patterning, English conforms to an implicational principle of general linguistics ( J. H. Greenberg 1966b: 78-9): whereas vx-order (where X is the object or some other Ncomplement of the verb) implicates prepositions, xv-order implicates postpositions. Reversals of what is expected or unmarked and of what is marked are found throughout human language and are to be found in marked environments, being the more likely as the environment is the more marked.1 (Subordinate clauses are known to be more marked than independent clauses.2) Native-speakers feel

____________________
1
See Andersen ( 1972), vastly extended and made into an explanatory-predictive theory in W. Mayerthaler ( 1977) and esp. in W. Mayerthaler ( 1980; 1981). A large number of examples of posterior (will, be gonna, etc.) usages and of differences between the be- and get-passives that appeared in the original version of this writing are omitted here in view of their reappearance, in a deeper analysis, in Ch. 6. The essence of markedness and markedness-reversal is easy to comprehend: Just as a black dot stands out on a white background in a manner in which a white dot does not-- whereas a white dot stands out on a black background--likewise what is natural or unmarked in an unmarked environment gets reversed in a marked environment; and what is marked in an unmarked environment is likely to become less marked in a more-marked environment. This is rather like the fact that ordinarily stimulant drugs have the opposite effect on hyperactive children, enabling them to calm down. I assume here that the difference between marked (internal and semantic) and markered (external form: an intonational pattern, syntactic order, or a morphological order, processual formative (like apophony), or reic formative--like flectional #ez, +t, and #ed, or derivational #ly or #ness. W. Mayerthater PRINCIPLE OF CONSTRUCTIONAL ICONISM states that it is iconic and natural for a more-markered (or less-markered) form to represent a more-marked (or, respectively, less-marked) linguistic entity than conversely. This presumes that markedness (like markeredness) is gradient: = more marked; = less marked. A marked and markered example is found in the double past-anterior of English, French, and German; see references below as well as in Ch. 6.
2
Among many examples are: the way clause-final order is required for a finite verb in German when a complementizer begins the clause; the usual re-reversal of the vs-order of embedded (indirect)

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