Word order in Yiddish narrative discourse

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Based on data from spoken narrative discourse in Yiddish, this paper analyses two structures common in Yiddish narrations: The placement of the finite verb in the first position of a declarative sentence, and topicalization.Like German, Yiddish word order is generally centered around a verb-second rule. However, both Yiddish and spoken German show configurations of word order that go against the rule, where the finite verb occupies the first position of the utterance. From a functional-pragmatic point of view, these structures can be said to serve special purposes in the interaction between speaker and listener, sometimes in particular discourse types.Differences and similarities in word order between Yiddish and German enable us to comment on the relationship between these two closely related languages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1467-1484
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2001

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Pragmatics. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Reershemius, Gertrud K. (2001). Word order in Yiddish narrative discourse. Journal of Pragmatics, 33 (9), pp. 1467-1484. DOI 10.1016/S0378-2166(00)00065-5


  • functional pragmatics
  • word order
  • topicalization
  • movement
  • German
  • Yiddish


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