Chapter published in:The Grammatical Realization of Polarity Contrast: Theoretical, empirical, and typological approaches
Edited by Christine Dimroth and Stefan Sudhoff
[Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 249] 2018
► pp. 227–254
Polarity focus and non-canonical syntax in Italian, French and Spanish
Clitic left dislocation and sì che / sí que-constructions
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.
Keywords: non-canonical syntax, corpus linguistics, clitic dislocation, Romance languages, Question Under Discussion
Published online: 30 November 2018
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