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Polarity focus and non-canonical syntax in Italian, French and Spanish: clitic left dislocation and sì che / sí que-constructions


Garassino, Davide; Jacob, Daniel (2018). Polarity focus and non-canonical syntax in Italian, French and Spanish: clitic left dislocation and sì che / sí que-constructions. In: Dimroth, Christine; Sudhoff, Stefan. The grammatical realization of polarity contrasts: theoretical, empirical, and typological approaches. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing, 227-254.

Abstract

Unlike in Germanic languages, in the Romance family the prosodic realization of polarity focus is strongly restricted. Instead, we observe a wealth of formal means that involve other language domains, such as the lexicon and non-canonical syntax. In this article, we provide a fine-grained analysis of the contribution of marked syntax to the expression of polarity focus in French, Italian and Spanish, by examining two constructions: clitic dislocation and sì che / sí que. Our main goals are to understand the distribution of these structures and their cross-linguistic differences on the basis of data gathered from the Direct Europarl corpus. Based on a Question Under Discussion model, we identify the main contexts of use to which clitic dislocation and sì che / sí que appear to be a good fit thanks to their functional properties; in particular, we recognize the framing function of clitic left dislocation as one of the most relevant features justifying the affinity between these structures and the expression of polarity focus. Finally, we explain the profound asymmetry observed in the distribution of clitic dislocation and sì che / sí que in our dataset on the basis of inherent grammatical grounds (related to the absence vs. presence of a system of clitic subject pronouns in the three languages), as well as the typology of information structure within the Romance family, as put forward by Leonetti (cf. Leonetti 2010, 2014) in his recent works.

Abstract

Unlike in Germanic languages, in the Romance family the prosodic realization of polarity focus is strongly restricted. Instead, we observe a wealth of formal means that involve other language domains, such as the lexicon and non-canonical syntax. In this article, we provide a fine-grained analysis of the contribution of marked syntax to the expression of polarity focus in French, Italian and Spanish, by examining two constructions: clitic dislocation and sì che / sí que. Our main goals are to understand the distribution of these structures and their cross-linguistic differences on the basis of data gathered from the Direct Europarl corpus. Based on a Question Under Discussion model, we identify the main contexts of use to which clitic dislocation and sì che / sí que appear to be a good fit thanks to their functional properties; in particular, we recognize the framing function of clitic left dislocation as one of the most relevant features justifying the affinity between these structures and the expression of polarity focus. Finally, we explain the profound asymmetry observed in the distribution of clitic dislocation and sì che / sí que in our dataset on the basis of inherent grammatical grounds (related to the absence vs. presence of a system of clitic subject pronouns in the three languages), as well as the typology of information structure within the Romance family, as put forward by Leonetti (cf. Leonetti 2010, 2014) in his recent works.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Romance Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism
470 Latin & Italic languages
410 Linguistics
440 French & related languages
460 Spanish & Portuguese languages
450 Italian, Romanian & related languages
Uncontrolled Keywords:non-canonical syntax, clitic dislocation, corpus linguistics, Question Under Discussion, Romance languages
Language:English
Date:30 November 2018
Deposited On:26 Feb 2019 13:51
Last Modified:26 Feb 2019 13:51
Publisher:John Benjamins Publishing
Series Name:Linguistik aktuell
Number:249
ISSN:0166-0829
ISBN:9789027201669
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1075/la.249.08gar

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