Tough-constructions and the issue of thematicity: a study of the word easy in 17th and 18th century English
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This article presents an analysis of tough-constructions (TCs) which attempts to describe the formal syntactic properties of these constructions in light of their functional sentence perspective (FSP). It has been suggested by Quirk et al. (1985), Mair (1989) and Biber et al. (1999) that the usage of TCs appears to be motivated, inter alia, by the information structure of the sentence’s content, i.e. the ordering of individual clause elements in such a way that the linear arrangement complies with, or at least closely imitates, the natural progression of an utterance from what is circumstantially given to what is immediately new. TCs, therefore, are expected to be favoured in situations when the noun phrase in the position of their subject is functionally thematic, containing a piece of information that has already been mentioned in the previous discourse. The present study is based on the data obtained from the Old Bailey Proceedings and Ordinary’s Accounts published between the years 1675 and 1775.
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