Er als accessibility marker: on- en offline evidentie voor een procedurele duiding van presentatieve zinnen

Marc Brysbaert, S Grondelaers, D Speelman, D Geeraerts

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This paper elaborates on offline and online research into linguistic status of non-anaphoric 'er' "there" in presentive sentences with a preposed adjunct (e.g. Op de hoek van de straat is (er) een winkel). In a first study (Grondelaers & Brysbaert 1996), we used corpus materials and self-paced reading data to demonstrate that there is a positive correlation between the presence of 'er' in adjunct sentences and the spatial and discursive situating potential of the preposed locative adjunct: the preference for 'er' in such sentences increases as the locative search precision of the adjunct and the topicality of the adjunct referent decrease. Building on additional corpus data and a new self-paced reading experiment, the present paper goes beyond the observation of correlations, and concentrates on 'er's' exact linguistic function. The cumulative empirical evidence suggests that 'er' is an acciessibility marker in the sense of Ariel (1990): 'er' is not - as is generally assumed - an optional dummy element, but a discourse particle inserted to inform the hearer how important the subject to be created is from a communicative point of view, how inferrable it is from the foregoing context, and how much effort the hearer should invest in its creation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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