Erasmus Lectures: PhDr. Vladislav Smolka, PhD.

Department of English Studies

Faculty of Education

University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice

Czech Republic


19.4. 2018, 14,45 (S211): Word order as an FSP indicator in English compared to Czech/Slovak


Speakers of inflected languages (such as Slovak or Czech) use word order as the primary indicator of the importance of a given element, typically by placing it in the final position, irrespective of its syntactic or semantic functions. In English, on the other hand, the flexibility of word order is constrained. While English also observes a general tendency to put the most important element at, or close to, the end of the sentence (the end-focus principle), the final position of an element cannot always be achieved by simple reordering of clause constituents, but rather by the application of alternative syntactic structures (the passive instead of the active, etc.). The purpose of the presentation is to provide a survey of English syntactic constructions that are potentially significant as indicators of FSP.


20.4. 2018, 9:15 (S211): Intonation nucleus placement in English compared to Czech and Slovak


In languages like Slovak and Czech, native speakers intuitively modify word order so as to place the informationally important element at the end. This means that the final position is strongly associated with prosodic prominence. Unfortunately, the application of this subconscious preference for a final nucleus to English, where the distribution of clause constituents is primarily determined by grammatical factors, results in native speakers of Slovak and Czech wrongly accenting final elements that are informationally marginal. In English, owing to the limited flexibility of word order, intonation operates much more independently, and the nucleus is not bound to any particulalr position in the sentence. This presentation aims to illustrate some common mistakes made by Slovak and Czech speakers of English and to show ways of preventing them.