Topic, Focus and Foreground in Ancient Hebrew Narratives

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This study breaks new ground in describing how various linguistic and pragmatic mechanisms affect both the form of the narrative clause and the arrangement of the grammatical elements. The various possible forms that a narrative clause can take are classified in terms of their 'topic-comment' and 'focus-presupposition', and it is argued that the way in which these are articulated dictates the word order in the clause. The outcome of the study demonstrates that the traditional binary distinction between foreground and background, based purely on verb forms, is inadequate. A new model is offered showing how foregrounding is achieved by exploiting cognitive structures or by using specific evaluative devices.