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Stylistic Inversion

W о r d-o r d e r is a crucial syntactical problem in many languages. In English it has peculiarities which have been caused by the concrete and specific way the language has developed. O. Jespersen states that the English language "...has developed a tolerably fired word-order which in the great majority of cases shows without fail what is the Sub­ject of the sentence."2 This "tolerably fixed word-order" is Subject — ^efk _JPredicate) — ^Object JS^P^^P). Further, Jespersen mentions

<й statistical investigation of word-order made on the basis of a series of

<representative 19th century writers. It was found that the order S~

P—О was^used in from 82 to QTj^LSSu^L^Lsentences S^taininjipiii

three !Sefi:il^^^ for BeowuTT^asHrB'^M'TorKirig

^ПтесГГ prose* 40.

This predominance of S—P—О word-order makes conspicuous any change in the structure of the sentence and inevitably calls forth a mod­ification in the intonation design.

Thfejnpst: с;р11^1сшд^ consi(dered^to,,.be,ihe firsFand the last: the first place because.JheJull force of the stress can De felj;_^tMT^lmiing of an utterance and the last place because there is_a pause aftgrJhL This traditional word-order Tias developed a definite intonation Design. Through frequency of fepet it ion this design Fas Imposed Tts<eIfT5fTany sentence even though there are changes introduced in the sequence of the component parts. Hence the clash between seman-tically insignificant elements of the sentence when they are placed in structurally significant position and the intonation which follows the recognized pattern.

Thus in Dickens' much quoted sentence:

"Talent Mr. Micawber has; capital Mr. Micawber has not."

The first and the last positions being prominent, the verb has and the negative not get a fuller volume of stressjhan they would in ordina­ry (uninverted) wordPorHeFrTnlM^rMTnbnal word-order the predicates has and has not are closely attached to their objects talent and capital. English predicate-object groups are so bound together1 that when jye tear the object away from its predicate, the latter remains dangjjng in the sentence and in this position sometimes calls fortff'a cfiange: in mean­ing of the predicate word. In the inverted word-order not 'only the objects talent and capital become conspicuous but also the predicates has and has not.

In this example the effect bf the inverted word-order is backed up by two other stylistic devices: antith§sis and parallel const ruction. Unlike grammatical inversion, st^yljstfcjily^ersion does riot change the structur­al rneari|rigj^^ is, the change in the juxtapositioffbf lEe members of the senteECje.^does-.noI indicate structural meaning Jjut Ms^jp^rE^silperstru.eluriaj function. S^yJ^ i stj^ijiv e r s i о n ajms* "at att ach jn g 1ogi с a 1 stress or additional emotional colouring "f 6. the sur-tacB rnganjng of.. ГНе*11ГГё^ intonation pattern is the inevitable satellTfe^lriversion.

Stylistic inversion in Modern English should not be regarded as a violation of the norms of standard English. It is only the practical realization of what is potential in the language itself.

The folIc^ing^^ are most frequently met in both English prose and English poetry.

1. The object Js placed at the beginning of the seatence (see the exam­ple above)7 "~

pl\_ ClUV^VN-/.

2. Theattribute is placed after the word it modifies (postposition Of the'attribute). This model is often used when there is more than one attribute, for example: *

'"''""""""""""''With fingers weary and worn..." (Thomas Hood) "Once upon a midnight dreary..." (E. A. Poe)

3. a) JThe predicative is {^ja£e<i ^^ as in "A good generous prayer it was." (Mark Twain)

or b) the predicative stands before the. link-verb and fajQlJlj^^Bjjiced^ before the sutTject, as m

"Rude am I in my speech..." (Shakespeare)

4. JThe adyeriiijai^Qdifier is placed at the beginning p£J]i^eiT.tence, as in:

"Eagerly I wished the morrow." (Poe) "My dearest daughter, at your feet I fall." (Dryderi) "A tone of most extraordinary comparison Miss Tox said it in."


5. Both modifier and predicate stand before the subject, as in:

"In went Mr. Pickwick." (Dickens) "Down dropped the breeze..." (Coleridge)

These five models comprise the most^cqmrnori els of inversion.

However, in modern English and American poetry, as has been shown elsewhere, there appears a definite tendency to experiment with the word-order to the extent which may even render the message unintelligi­ble, In this case there may be an almost unlimited number of rearrange­ments of the members of the sentence.

Inversion s a stylistic: JjyiJs^ahvays sense-:notiv£t£d

a tindencyTo^account for inversion in poetry by rhythmical c;oimder-IRoHgrThls'may sometimes be true, but really talented poets will never sacrifice sense for form and in the majority of cases inversion in poetry is called forth by considerations of content rather than rhythm.

Inverted word-order, or inversion, is one of the forms of what are known as emphatic constructions. What is generally called traditional word-order is iiotTiTrig~niore "than" unemphatic construction. Emphatic constructions have so far been regarded as non-typical structures and therefore are considered as violations of the regular word-.order in the sentence. But in practice these structures are as common as the lixed or traditional word-order structures. Theref ore^Tn'versTonnrnust'^e" re-garded as afrexpressive means of tlie language havingJ^ypiSSil structural models.

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