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28 - Topicalization Defined by Syntax

from Part Four - Syntax-semantics, Pragmatics, and Discourse Issues

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 August 2022

Chu-Ren Huang
Affiliation:
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Yen-Hwei Lin
Affiliation:
Michigan State University
I-Hsuan Chen
Affiliation:
University of California, Berkeley
Yu-Yin Hsu
Affiliation:
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
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Summary

In this chapter, we present a general picture of how topicalization and topicality can be defined in morphosyntactic terms. We start with an overview of the syntax and semantics of topics from the vantage point of generative syntax and formal logic. We then show that the notion of topic prominence can be defined by typological correlations through a systematic survey across languages. By applying objective tests to sort out the ‘grey areas’ or the spectrum effects of topicality, this line of research may well contribute to our pursuit of an optimal solution to the mystery of linguistic variations: Both the macro-parameter setting of analyticity and the micro-parameter setting of null topic are to be justified on empirical grounds, which, if so justified, will provide an explicit account of the inner working of topicalization, as well as its interaction with other types of syntactic mechanisms such as pro-drop and focalization.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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