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Example text

This is not to say that earlier stages of Moabite did not have such a fronting rule. At the time that subject pronouns, which, by their nature, convey old rather than new information, became obligatory in paragraph initial position, the relevant conditioning factor could not have been newness in the discourse. If it had been, the subject pronouns would have appeared post-verbally or been omitted. It may be that SV word order for new subjects became reanalyzed as being a consequence of the discourse position {paragraph or episode initial) of the sentence.

The difference between narrative-initial and narrativemedial sentences, along with the differences in verb form and word order, outlined here, is compatible with the sort of situation described in Hopper (1976, 1979). In a survey of the differences between various verb forms in languages as unrelated as Malay and Old English, Hopper 43 concludes that languages use various devices to distinguish between events that are sequenced in a narrative and events that are essentially independent of such sequencing.

Bn, and it was necessary that there be a subject before the verb. Since there was no subject noun already in the sentence, the only option available was to insert the appropriate pronoun. If this analysis is correct, then the sentences in (15) are not clefts, as Anderson (1968:98) would have it. Rather, the presence of tne subject pronoun results from the speaker's decision to treat the events described in (15) as distinct episodes instead of as events in the same episode. The opposite decision could as easily have been made.

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