Towards an Empirical Characterisation and a Corpus-Driven Taxonomy of Fragments in Written Contemporary English


  • Yolanda Fernández-Pena Universidade de Vigo

Palabras clave:

fragment, ellipsis, corpus-driven, written discourse, parsing


This study investigates ‘fragments’ in contemporary English. Fragments are structurally non-canonical constituents that convey the propositional meaning of a full clause, such as Good Old Hendon next stop or What a weirdo. This investigation constitutes an innovative approach to the topic since it (i) explores fragments in exclusively written (i.e. planned/edited) discourse, and (ii) aims at providing a corpus-driven taxonomy and an empirical account of the constructions, strategies and phenomena that are classifiable as fragments based on linguistically objectifiable (formal/textual) criteria, two areas much neglected in prior literature. The results reveal that fragments are not uncommon in written registers, particularly in letters and novels/stories. The most frequent types identified are phrasal and verbless, followed by clausal, wh-fragments and Small Clauses. Most of them show a high rate of subject and/or verb omission whose recoverability in context is facilitated by means of functional elements or latent lexical items licensed by the construction itself.

Biografía del autor/a

Yolanda Fernández-Pena, Universidade de Vigo

Yolanda Fernández-Pena is Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English, French and German at the University of Vigo (Spain), and member of the research group Language Variation and Textual Categorisation (LVTC). She is the author of the monograph Reconciling synchrony, diachrony and usage in verb number agreement with complex collective subjects (Routledge, 2020) and has published in international, peer- reviewed journals, such as Corpora, Atlantis, VIAL and Varieng.


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