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Dislocation in the Romance Languages: Syntax, Semantics, Discourse, Acquisition  

Davide Garassino

Dislocations are syntactic constructions consisting of a core sentence and a detached constituent located outside the clause, either at its left (left dislocation) or at its right (right dislocation). Typically, although not invariably, the clause hosts a resumptive element, often a pronoun, which is co-referent with the detached constituent. This separation between an extra-clausal element and the sentence led to the classification of dislocations as “non-canonical” or “marked” syntactic structures. Dislocations are attested in many language families, to the extent that they can be regarded as a language universal. However, these constructions have predominantly been examined in Germanic and Romance languages, both in formal and functional frameworks. Left and right dislocations are usually analyzed as topic-marking structures, in which the referent of the detached element has the function of sentence topic. However, specific types of topics appear to preferentially occur in either left or right dislocation. For example, left dislocations often convey topic shifts and contrastive topics, while continuous (or familiar) topics are more commonly found in right dislocations. Nonetheless, corpus-based research unveiled a more nuanced situation. Furthermore, interactionally oriented studies also suggest that exploring dislocations in spontaneous conversations is crucial for comprehending their broad functional spectrum. Thus, dislocations present many intriguing challenges to Romance linguistics, including the questions, To what extent do left and right dislocations differ syntactically and pragmatically across Romance languages? Are descriptions framed in terms of “topic establishing” and “topic promotion” truly adequate? What are the main prosodic characteristics of left and right dislocations? and What challenges do L1 and L2 learners encounter in the acquisition of these constructions?


Resumption in Mandarin Chinese  

Victor Junnan Pan

Resumptive pronouns (RPs) exist in different types of A'-dependencies in Mandarin Chinese, such as relativization, left-dislocation (LD) structures, cleft sentences, across-the-board (ATB) constructions, and so on. Diachronically, resumptive dislocation structures were documented in the literature as early as 502 bce. In modern Chinese, the obligatory use, the systematical use, and the intrusive use of RPs are all observed. When a prepositional object is A'-extracted, the extraction site must be occupied by an RP given that Chinese does not permit preposition stranding. In certain island-free contexts, an RP and a gap are free alternatives in relatives and in LD structures. However, RPs can redeem the potential violation of island constraints in an LD structure but not in a relative clause. Gap strategy is always subject to locality constraints. Resumptive strategy gives rise to island effects in relatives but not in LD structures. In addition, two empty categories should be distinguished one from the other: gap and pro. The extraction of the direct object of action verbs causing direct physical effects on the object-patient, such as ōudǎ ‘beat’, will leave a gap, which potentially gives rise to island effects. By contrast, the extraction of the object of stative and psycho verbs that do not cause any physical effects on the object, such as xīnshǎng ‘appreciate’, never gives rise to island effects. It is assumed that these verbs take pro as their complement and that pro functions as an RP in these structures, which saves the sentence from the potential violation of island constraints..


Topicalization in the Romance Languages  

Silvio Cruschina

Topic and topicalization are key notions to understand processes of syntactic and prosodic readjustments in Romance. More specifically, topicalization refers to the syntactic mechanisms and constructions available in a language to mark an expression as the topic of the sentence. Despite the lack of a uniform definition of topic, often based on the notions of aboutness or givenness, significant advances have been made in Romance linguistics since the 1990s, yielding a better understanding of the topicalization constructions, their properties, and their grammatical correlates. Prosodically, topics are generally described as being contained in independent intonational phrases. The syntactic and pragmatic characteristics of a specific topicalization construction, by contrast, depend both on the form of resumption of the dislocated topic within the clause and on the types of topic (aboutness, given, and contrastive topics). We can thus distinguish between hanging topic (left dislocation) (HTLD) and clitic left-dislocation (ClLD) for sentence-initial topics, and clitic right-dislocation (ClRD) for sentence-final dislocated constituents. These topicalization constructions are available in most Romance languages, although variation may affect the type and the obligatory presence of the resumptive element. Scholars working on topic and topicalization in the Romance languages have also addressed controversial issues such as the relation between topics and subjects, both grammatical (nominative) subjects and ‘oblique’ subjects such as dative experiencers and locative expressions. Moreover, topicalization has been discussed for medieval Romance, in conjunction with its alleged V2 syntactic status. Some topicalization constructions such as subject inversion, especially in the non-null subject Romance languages, and Resumptive Preposing may indeed be viewed as potential residues of medieval V2 property in contemporary Romance.