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Size matters – or thus can meaningful structures be revealed in large corpora

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Chapter Summary

After sentence-initial thus, both S-V word order and inverted word order can be found. The standardised, million-word corpora of American and British English reveal four possible ways of ordering the main sentence constituents after initial thus: S-V, V-S, Aux-V-S, and Aux-S-V. However, larger corpora are needed to determine the reason for the variation. The British Guardian/Observer 1998-2002 (approximately 50 million words per year), used in the present investigation, shows some kind of inversion in 10-15% of the sentences with initial thus. A systematic comparison of examples with inverted and noninverted word order demonstrates that this is neither a case of free variation nor formality of style, but rather a case of word order being used to signal a difference in the function of thus. Accordingly, S-V word order is used after resultative, summative, and appositive thus, whereas inversion is used when thus is a deictic proform.



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