Unit 5: Function Labels: 5.5 Function and Order

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In English function is closely related to word order. The normal order in an English clause is SPOCA. Every clause contains a P and most clauses contain a S. (An exception is compound sentences where there is ellipsis of the subject to avoid repetition: Cl[He sang] and Cl[danced] and Cl[played the bagpipes]). Normally the S precedes the P as in sentences 1-3. The O generally comes after the P, as does the C, but neither of these elements is obligatory in the clause. Adverbials are likewise optional elements, and their position can vary quite a lot. (Compare adverbs in 2.6.)

The normal order can sometimes be violated for stylistic effect, as in (5) below where attention is drawn to the cause of hatred by the position of O before S and P.


5.

Cl [
S

NP
H
(She)
pn
P

VP
H
(loves)
V
O

NP
M
(most
d
H
fruit)
N

]

but
c

Cl [
O

NP
H
(prunes)
N
S

NP
H
(she)
pn
P

VP
M
(can't
a    n
H
stand)
V

]

It is obvious that she has the actor role in both clauses while most fruit and prunes are the patients. (See 5.6.1. below.) When attention is drawn to a clause element by putting it to the front in this way, the process is known as MARKED FRONTING.