Discourse Functions at the Left and Right Periphery

Crosslinguistic Investigations of Language Use and Language Change


A basic property of human language is that it unfolds in time; the left and right margin of discourse units do not behave in a symmetrical fashion. The working hypothesis of this volume is that discourse elements at the left periphery have mainly subjective and discourse-structuring functions, whereas at the right periphery, such elements play an intersubjective or modalising role. However, the picture that emerges from the different contributions to this volume is far more complex. While it seems clear that the working hypothesis cannot be upheld in a “strong” way, most of the chapters – especially those based on corpus data – show that an asymmetry between left and right periphery does exist and that it is a matter of frequency.

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Kate Beeching is Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of the West of England, Bristol, UK. Her main research interest is in the impact of sociolinguistic, pragmatic and interactional factors on semantic change.

Ulrich Detges is Professor of Romance Linguistics at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich, Germany. His main fields of interest are syntax, lexicology and pragmatics, and diachronic change.

Contributors are: Kate Beeching, Liesbeth Degand, Ulrich Detges, Chiara Ghezzi, Stephanie H. Kim, Piera Molinelli, Noriko Onodera, Sung-Ock S. Sohn, Elizabeth Traugott, Richard Waltereit, Yu-Fang Wang, Tak-Sum Wong, Foong Ha Yap, and Ying Yang.
Linguists interested in (historical) pragmatics, discourse analysis, and anyone concerned with grammaticalization.
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