Talk:Inversion (linguistics)

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What about question inversion (Subject-auxiliary inversion)? -- AnonMoos (talk) 19:09, 12 July 2010 (UTC)

Yeah, and what about negative inversion? Like in, "Only then will we know for sure." --Kjoonlee 09:30, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

inversion (linguistics)[edit]

If the article is to make any sense at all it has to specify how inversion works in various languages. This short text cannot be described as containing any systematic or worthwhile attempt to treat the subject. For example, the most common uses of inversion in English involve initial negative phrases, where the negative is explicit ( 'under no circumstances will I go there again') or implicit ('scarcely had she left the room'). Inversions not involving a negative are limited to the 3rd p. (sing. or pl.), where 'there' has been elided: 'round the corner (there) came a large clown' but NOT 'round the corner (there) came we'. (talk) 12:25, 5 February 2011 (UTC)


Hi Victor, Your recent revisions are problematic in a couple of ways. But first, let me state that you apparently have knowledge of a number of languages, and you are redoing articles at a tremendous clip. What you write is, I believe, all accurate and it is often quite good information. But there are problems. You prefer to include the examples in the paragraphs instead of separating them off. This makes the information you present overly compact, and it is going to overwhelm your average non-linguist reader. I think articles are more accessible if they set examples off from the text and then provide clarifications in the form of special comments for each example. The organization of the article is now much different. The clear division between subject-auxiliary inversion and subject-verb inversion is now largely missing. This is an important distinction (for English). Further, I do not see that you are adding notes to literature when you revise articles. Without notes, the article is less believable and less authoritative.

I am now going to undo your revisions. The article can certainly be improved, especially in the area of inversion in other languages beyond English. In this regard, I suggest that we two work together. I imagine that we can produce a really good article if we combine our knowledge and skills. --Tjo3ya (talk) 15:10, 6 October 2012 (UTC)

So why are you destroying the work I've been doing, instead of working together? If you prefer to have the examples set off, then set them off, don't revert everything slse. You've removed perfectly valid information about other languages, and some additional information about English - why? This isn't controversial enough to require citations, much like the information already in the article is largely not backed up by citations, since it's common knowledge. The article as it is (and as you've restored it to) is very badly structured, making it seem as if inversion is just something that happens in English. Why are you behaving like this? Victor Yus (talk) 16:43, 6 October 2012 (UTC)
Victor, I've invested a lot of time and effort into this article, far more than you. I want the article to be coherent and accessible to a large audience. Your preferred means of presenting information is too dense and compact. I think it actually reduces the accessibility of the articles. My suggestion is as follows:
Let's split the article into two major sections, the first section focusing on English and the second on other languages. Much of the information you want to add can appear in the second section, since most of the information for the first section (on English) is already present. Concerning the other languages, we can add examples from V2 languages (German, because I know German) and French (because I know some French) and whatever other languages you know. I am willing to invest some more time here. What do you think? --Tjo3ya (talk) 17:20, 6 October 2012 (UTC)
Why should English come first? I know people reading this know English, so it's most helpful if the examples come from English as much as possible, but since this is an article about a general linguistic phenomenon, it seems rather weird to begin by treating it as if it's an exclusively English thing. We already have an article about inversion in English (at least, about the subject-auxiliary case - we could rename it Inversion in English and deal with the subject-verb case there as well). Victor Yus (talk) 17:31, 6 October 2012 (UTC)
In any case, I was actually adding information about English, such as the thing about negative inversion - but you even removed that (!) Victor Yus (talk) 17:40, 6 October 2012 (UTC)

Victor, the article should focus mainly on English at first because English data are what every reader is going to understand. This is a major part of making the overall content of the article accessible. The content begins with what the reader can easily understand and then continues on further down with other data (from other languages) that demand more of the reader.

Negative inversion is a type of subject-auxiliary inversion. It belongs in the section on subject-auxiliary inversion. It can be briefly illustrated, but should be discussed in more depth in the article on subject-auxiliary inversion. The organization you added confused this division of phenomena somewhat. --Tjo3ya (talk) 18:09, 6 October 2012 (UTC)

But you must surely see that this division between sub-aux and sub-verb applies only to English? (Maybe to some other languages that I don't know of, but there's no mention of any such.) We confuse readers totally if we make this distinction at the top level, without first starting a subsection on English and then making this distinction within that subsection - that implies that the whole topic of inversion generally is subject to this division, which is not the case at all. (For example, in English negative inversion is a type of sub-aux inversion, but that isn't the case generally - I gave an example from French, and in that language the constraints on inversion are quite different from the English ones.)

In any case, since we have the separate article for sub-aux inversion (which is a subtopic essentially of English inversion), why not expand that somewhat to make it into the detailed article on English inversion? It makes little sense to hive off a large part, but not all, of that topic to a separate page. I agree that examples from English generally make the topic more accessible, but we must make it clear to ourselves and to readers what we are talking about at any one time - a general phenomenon (which we might choose to illustrate with examples from a specific familiar language), or a language-specific phenomenon. It's not only I who have observed that failure to observe this distinction is a major problem with Wikipedia's linguistics articles, and this one is a perfect example of the problem. Victor Yus (talk) 09:17, 7 October 2012 (UTC)

Victor, I can now support the current direction the article is taking. I will be reworking what you have added. The section on subject-verb inversion in other languages should be expanded. I can add some data from German and perhaps from French.
Please look at the density of that section as it now stands. You have examples from French, German, and Dutch in the running text. That is too dense!; it immediately overwhelms any reader who does not know those languages. Those examples should be set off with English glosses placed below them. It is standard practice in linguistics literature to set off examples, especially non-English examples. I strongly encourage you to reconsider how you present information in this regard. --Tjo3ya (talk) 17:22, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
I personally don't have a problem with reading examples in text, but maybe you have a point - when the section is properly developed, we can improve the presentation. I think, though, that we ought to do something with the section on "subject-verb" inversion in English. This (detailed description of a specific type of inversion in a specific language) still over-dominates this article - we can mention it here by way of illustration, but I think the details ought to be moved away to an article specifically about English - either separately or by merging into subject-auxiliary inversion. Victor Yus (talk) 10:28, 8 October 2012 (UTC)
I am open to the possibility of three articles: subject-auxiliary inversion in English, subject-verb inversion in English, and inversion in general. The information on subject-verb inversion would be reduced here, the bulk of it being moved to the other article. --Tjo3ya (talk) 18:07, 8 October 2012 (UTC)
That sounds fine. What about your article on negative inversion - would that remain separate as a fourth, or be merged with the sub-aux article? Victor Yus (talk) 07:03, 9 October 2012 (UTC)

Victor, the article on negative inversion should remain separate, since it is a nice compact topic that stands alone well. I am now going to separate off from this article most of the information on subject-verb inversion to my sandbox, where I will be drafting the new article "subject-verb inversion in English". This article here needs to be improved in the area of other languages. Perhaps you want to have a go at it. You now seem to be separating of examples from the running text. I think this practice is going to make your contributions more coherent and accessible. --Tjo3ya (talk) 16:33, 9 October 2012 (UTC)