Discourse Functions at the Left and Right Periphery: Crosslinguistic Investigations of Language Use and Language Change

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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.