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Middle field

The Mittelfeld is the topological field that is enclosed by the sentence brackets (see Topological fields).

The Mittelfeld is occupied by constituents that can be placed between the sentence brackets. It can be occupied by any type of constituent. In principle, the number of constituents in the Mittelfeld is not limited:

Sentence brackets
Er hat seinem Enkel das Buch sicher gestern beim Essen im Restaurant zum Geburtstag geschenkt.

The order of the constituents in the Mittelfeld is very free:

Er hat seinem Enkel das Buch gestern geschenkt.
Er hat seinem Enkel gestern das Buch geschenkt.
Er hat das Buch seinem Enkel gestern geschenkt.
Er hat das Buch gestern seinem Enkel geschenkt.
Er hat gestern seinem Enkel das Buch geschenkt.
Er hat gestern das Buch seinem Enkel geschenkt.

Nevertheless, the order of the constituents in the Mittelfeld is governed by some (partially conflicting) rules and tendencies. Grammatical factors as well as factors such as the speech situation and the intention of the speaker affect the word order in the Mittelfeld.

The interaction between these rules and factors often results in a multitude of possible word orders, which we can only describe, here, by means of general tendencies and rules.

There is a so-called neutral, basic word order that is often changed for different reasons. The basic word order is as follows:

Subject > Dative object > Accusative object
Adverbial adjunct > Adverbial complement
Genitive object
Prepositional object
> (Predicative)

The main factors affecting the word order in the Mittelfeld are:

Type of the constituent
Position of the subject
Position of the objects
Position of the adverbials
Position of the modal particles
Position of the predicative
Relevance of the information
"Old before new"
Form of the constituent
Definite before indefinite
Pronoun before noun
Animate before inanimate

If the general tendencies and rules of word order are not obeyed, a sentence is not necessarily incorrect. Often, an unusual word order is marked. Marked word orders have different functions such as emphasizing a particular constituent.

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