On the Syntax of Topic and Focus in Chinese

Linda Badan and Francesca Del Gobbo

in Mapping the Left Periphery

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199740376
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199895304 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Comparative Syntax

On the Syntax of Topic and Focus in Chinese

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  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology


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This study is dedicated to an analysis of the left periphery of Mandarin Chinese, within the Cartographic Project. It is shown that in Mandarin Chinese there are three different types of Topics: Aboutness Topics, Hanging Topics and Left Dislocated ones. These are organized hierarchically and precede the only Focus projection that occurs above IP, the lian-Focus: Aboutness Topic 〉 HT 〉 LD 〉 lian-Focus 〉 IP. HT and LD can be stressed phonologically and act as Contrastive Topics. HT are always linked to a resumptive pronoun or an epithet, while LD are always linked to a gap. When the object or the subject is topicalized, the resumptive pronouns seem to occur freely because in these cases HT and LD cannot be distinguished. The authors establish that Chinese shows the same ordering restrictions found in Italian with respect to Topic and Focus, but Chinese does not allow bare focalization strategies in the left periphery.

Keywords: left periphery; topic; focus; Mandarin Chinese; italian; cartography

Chapter.  11952 words. 

Subjects: Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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