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【 Time:2020-12-18 】


          Title: Contours of a non-cartographic syntax for topic, focus, and contrast

Speaker: Professor Marcel den Dikken 

          Research Institute for Linguistics & Eötvös Loránd University

                International Professor of Department of Linguistics BLCU

Time: Beijing Time: Dec 21, 2020,20:00-21:30  

      Budapest Time: Dec 21, 2020, 13:00-14:30

Location: Voov meeting (ID980 483 187) (outside China) 

       Tencent meeting (ID980 483 187) (Inside China)

Organizer: Department of Linguistics, Beijing Language and Culture University (BDL)

Abstract: This paper unfolds the contours of a novel non-cartographic outlook on the syntax of information structure based on the idea that topichood, focushood and contrast are all defined with reference to the nature and position of the gap linked to the fronted constituent rather than the fronted element itself. Topic and focus functions are relational, and syntactically represented as such, with topic–comment and focus–presupposition relationships being mediated by a RELATOR: (1). Fronted topics and foci (occupying the position of ‘XP’ in (1)) are associated with different types of empty categories in different positions within YP. The RP in (1) can be inserted in both the high and the low left periphery; YP is necessarily a phase in the case of topic–comment relations (to shield ec from local binding by XP), which restricts the syntax of such relations in revealing ways. The structure in (1) yields explanatory insight into the Verb Second and copula distribution properties of focus and topic fronting, and into the parameters of variation in the comparative syntax of focalisation and topicalisation. (1) also makes precise and accurate predictions about the syntax of (non-)restrictive relativisation and focus and topic fronting in conditional clauses.

(1) [RP XPi [RN RELATOR [YP ... eci ... ]]]

a. XP = FOCUS if ec = bound variable

b. XP = TOPIC if ec = resumptive proform

i XP = TOPIC[–CONTRAST] if ec = in-situ personal pronoun

ii XP = TOPIC[+CONTRAST] only if ec = ex-situ demonstrative

                                                      Professor Marcel den Dikken

     About the speaker: Marcel den Dikken, Research Professor in the Department of English Linguistics, Eötvös Loránd University and senior researcher at the Research Institute for Linguistics; member of the International Professors’ Committee, Department of Linguistics at Beijing Language and Culture University. Editor of The Cambridge Handbook of Generative Syntax, series editor of Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, and former editor-in-chief of Natural Language & Linguistic Theory.