Edward Sapir (18841939). Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. 1921.
the speaker wishes to know the truth of the matter and that the person spoken to is expected to give him the information. The interrogative sentence possesses an entirely different modality from the declarative one and implies a markedly different attitude of the speaker towards his companion. An even more striking change in personal relations is effected if we interchange the farmer and the duckling. The duckling kills the farmer involves precisely the same subjects of discourse and the same type of activity as our first sentence, but the rôles of these subjects of discourse are now reversed. The duckling has turned, like the proverbial worm, or, to put it in grammatical terminology, what was subject is now object, what was object is now subject.
The following tabular statement analyzes the sentence from the point of view of the concepts expressed in it and of the grammatical processes employed for their expression.
First subject of discourse: farmer
Second subject of discourse: duckling
Activity: kill analyzable into:
Verb: (to) farm
Agentive: expressed by suffix -er
Diminutive: expressed by suffix -ling
RELATIONAL CONCEPTS: Reference:
Definiteness of reference to first subject of discourse: expressed by first the, which has preposed position