Stella Grillia, What can topics tell us about foci?

There is an ongoing debate about focus and topic. More specifically, there is an open question whether focus and topic should be encoded in syntax. This question is answered in different ways. For example, Rizzi 1997, 2002 argues that information structure should be encoded into syntax, whereas Reinhart 1996 argues that focus should be interpreted in the interface. In this talk, I am going to discuss constructions like the one given in (1).

(1)   Tis         triantafilies potizi         i             Maria.

the_acc roses_acc    water_3sg the_nom Mary_nom

¡¥The roses, Mary waters.¡¦

What I will show is that preverbal objects in Greek are foci sitting in a topic position. Evidence for this claim comes from an experiment on anaphora resolution and a questionnaire.



Reinhart, T. 1996. Interface Economy. In C. Wilder, H. Gaertner, M. Bierwiscg (eds). The role of economy principles in linguistic theory. Berlin: Akademische Verlag.

Rizzi, L. 1997. The fine structure of the left periphery. In L. Haegeman (ed). Elements of Grammar. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

Rizzi, L. 2002. Locality and left periphery. In A. Belletti (ed) . Structures and beyond. The cartography of syntactic structures, vol. 3. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


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