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Evolutionary Syntax

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Academic Paper


Title: Do contrastive topics exist?
Author: Elena Titov
Institution: University College London
Linguistic Field: Syntax
Abstract: This paper investigates a phenomenon that has been referred to in the linguistic literature as contrastive topic. Traditionally, contrastive topic is analyzed as an independent information-structural notion that is linked to a particular interpretation and intonation. The paper, however, argues that the information-structural notion of contrastive topic is redundant and can be reduced to that of contrastive focus. The apparent dissimilarity between contrastive topics and contrastive foci is attributed to a difference in the structures that contain them rather than any particular difference between the associated information-structural notions themselves. The structures that host contrastive topics and contrastive foci are claimed to be distinct due to the nature of an additional focused element obligatorily present in the sentence. Contrastive topics and contrastive foci themselves, in contrast, are shown to be associated with identical interpretations, which results in their identical syntactic distribution, strongly suggesting that they in fact represent one and the same information-structural phenomenon in two different types of construction.

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN Journal of Linguistics Vol. 49, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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