The article explores the role of word-order as an indicator of the rheme in samples of written and spoken language respectively. The assumption was that this role of word order would be more prominent in written language, where the choice of a particular linear arrangement may be prompted by the need to achieve the effect of end-focus. In spoken discourse the rheme is signalled by prosodic clues, namely by the placement of the intonation nucleus, irrespective of its position in the sentence, rendering word-order a secondary indicator. As a result, the frequency of deviations from the grammatical word-order, e.g. fronting, is lower in spoken discourse. However, the analysis of word-order in spoken discourse is made difficult by irregularity and structural incompleteness.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.