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Current Issues in Italian, Romance and Germanic Non-canonical Word Orders

Syntax – Information Structure – Discourse Organization


Anna-Maria De Cesare and Davide Garassino

This volume aims at offering an up-to-date survey on non-canonical word orders and their interplay with information structure and discourse organization. The contributions analyze different non-canonical syntactic structures (fronting, inversion, dislocations, and cleft constructions), focusing on Italian alone or on Italian in a contrastive perspective with one or more Romance (French, Romanian, Portuguese, Spanish) and/or Germanic (English and German) languages. The authors tackle the main issue of the volume from a variety of perspectives and by relying on different theoretical frameworks. At the same time, they all offer a fine-grained description of the structures analyzed on the basis of a solid empirical foundation.
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Obliques and the initial syntactic position


Abstract: This article discusses the informative function of obliques in first position within the sentence showing that in addition to being Topic, they can also be Focus constituents. We present data from a corpus of spoken Italian and examine the different types of focused obliques in initial position. An analysis of the prosodic characteristics of these constituents in different syntactic positions enables us to present a new principle governing the relation between the syntactic sequence and the information value of elements within the sentence.

1    Introduction

The aim of this paper is to analyze the behavior of obliques in Italian in contexts where they occur in the initial position of the sentence. This means that they are found in marked syntactic contexts in cases of left dislocation or preposing, that is, as extra-nuclear constituents (or in the left periphery according to Rizzi 1997). Our specific interest will be to show that the initial position of obliques in discourse is not only a case of left dislocation due to their Topic function, as has often been stated since Chafe (1976), but that this position can also be due to their Focus function, that is, to the fronting or preposing of the oblique constituent. We will mainly deal with data from spoken language drawn from a corpus of semi-spontaneous conversations.

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