Abstract

Though narratives are probably the most thoroughly studied discourse type, the ways of marking the peak in narratives have received little attention. Starting from Longacre's characterization of the peak as a zone of turbulence, this study shows how Old English narrative prose texts of different kinds mark the peak through uses of discourse markers and text-structural variation. Discourse markers are the most frequently employed signals: action peaks in the sample texts are most often accompanied by the foreground marker þa, whose use in peak zones deviates from other parts of the story, and various expressions of suddenness and interjections, such as hwæt “what, lo, indeed,” which typically co-occur with þa at the peak.

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