Two grammars? Thetical Grammar and the case of insubordination

Gunther Kaltenböck (Vienna University)

In recent years there has been increased interest in linguistic elements that are somehow outside the clause and cannot easily be accounted for in terms of Sentence Grammar. In this talk I will explore these extra-clausal elements and suggest that they form a separate domain of grammar, so-called Thetical Grammar (Kaltenböck, Heine and Kuteva 2011), which is different from Sentence Grammar but interacts with it in crucial ways in communication. Theticals are shown to play a vital role especially in spoken interaction, where they fulfil a range of different functions and are not necessarily secondary to Sentence Grammar. The talk will discuss formal and functional properties specific to this class and relate the concept of theticals other concepts, such as extra-clausal constituents (Dik 1997), supplements (Huddleston and Pullum 2002) and macro syntaxe (e.g. Avanzi 2007). In support for the distinction of two different domains of grammar I will also consider neuro-cognitive evidence which is suggestive of a correlation of the two grammatical domains with the left-right brain hemisphere distinction and I will highlight the systemic contribution of theticals to the Grammar from the perspective of a Complex Adaptive System. The different aspects of Thetical grammar will, finally, be illustrated with a specific example of a thetical, namely that of insubordinate if-clauses, such as If you’d like to come over here, based on a detailed analysis of corpus examples.

Avanzi, Mathieu. 2007. Regards croisés sur la notion de macro-syntaxe. Travaux neuchâtelois de linguistique 47: 39-58.

Dik, Simon C. 1997. The Theory of Functional Grammar, Part 2: Complex and Derived Constructions. (Functional Grammar Series, 21.) Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Huddleston, Rodney. and Geoffrey. K. Pullum 2002. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kaltenböck, Gunther, Bernd Heine, and Tania Kuteva 2011. On thetical grammar. Studies in Language 35, 4: 848-93.

Gunther Kaltenböck is Senior Lecturer at the English Department of Vienna University. He holds an MA from the University of London and a PhD and postdoctoral thesis from the University of Vienna. He has published numerous book chapters and articles in international journals mainly on cognitive-functional grammar and corpus linguistics, a book on It-extraposition and non-extraposition in English (2004, Braumüller) and has co-edited Tracing English through time: Explorations in language variation (2007, Braumüller), Proceedings of Anglistentag 2001 (2002, WVT) and New approaches to hedging (2011, Emerald).