Narrative when in English

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    This article examines the so-called 'narrative when' construction in English. No one has come up with an entirely satisfactory description of this construction which accounts appropriately for both its syntax and content. The descriptive challenge is to explain the unusual balance between the main clause and the when clause: unlike an ordinary temporal when clause (which offers circumstantial information in relation to the main clause), a narrative when clause expresses the primary situation while the main clause merely has a supporting textual function. This article suggests a simple framework for the description of all when clauses within which narrative when clauses are very comfortably accommodated as one of the metaphorical extensions of the basic meaning and syntax of when.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEnglish Language and Linguistics
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)273–294
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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