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  Going left. A comparative study of left displacement in Avatime, Lakhota, Tundra Yukaghir and Whitesands.

Hammond, J., Matic, D., Van Putten, S., & Van Valin Jr., R. D. (2012). Going left. A comparative study of left displacement in Avatime, Lakhota, Tundra Yukaghir and Whitesands. Talk presented at the 45th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea. Department of Linguistics, Stockholm University, Sweden. 2012-08-29 - 2012-09-01.

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Hammond, Jeremy1, 2, Author           
Matic, Dejan1, Author           
Van Putten, Saskia1, Author           
Van Valin Jr., Robert D.1, Author           
1Syntax, Typology, and Information Structure, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society, ou_63282              
2International Max Planck Research School for Language Sciences, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society, Nijmegen, NL, ou_1119545              


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 Abstract: Left displaced elements seem to be extremely frequent, if not universal, phenomena across languages. Despite their surface similarity, however, they tend to display strikingly different features, both structurally and functionally (Prince 1998, Lambrecht 2001, papers in Shaer et al. 2009, Gundel et al. 2010, etc.). Our purpose is to investigate (a) the correlation of the structural variability of left-detachment constructions and the overall linguistic type of the language (head- vs. dependent-marking, head-final vs. head-initial, pronominal vs. zero anaphor, etc.), and (b) the range of discourse-pragmatic functions these constructions can perform from the point of view of information structure and discourse organisation. The study is based on a fine-grained analysis of naturally occurring instances of left dislocation in four geographically and genealogically distinct languages, Avatime (Kwa, West Africa), Lakhota (Siouan, northern USA), Tundra Yukaghir (isolate, north-eastern Siberia), and Whitesands (Oceanic, Vanuatu). The formal parameters of variation investigated include prosodic features of pitch assignment and phrasing, the frequency and type of resumption within the clause, integration within the clause via case/cross-referencing on the verb, recursivity, connectivity effects such as binding by quantifiers and island sensitivity, etc. The variation in the functional load of left detached elements is explored on the basis of their anaphoric and cataphoric relevance, the degree and type of activation and their semantic and information-structural relations to the clause. It is shown that the types of left detachment represented in the languages under investigation vary depending on the argument structure marking strategies employed in the language and the types of anaphora resolution employed. Furthermore, the functional variability is shown to be at least in part a function of the linguistic type, the relevant features being the presence of dedicated topic/focus positions in the clause architecture and the pronominal inventory. We provide an RRG-based account of these empirical findings, which both captures the universal features of left detachment and takes the cross-linguistic variability into account. References Gundel J.K., B. Mamadou, G. Bryan, H. Linda & Kh. Amel (2010) Testing predictions of the Givenness Hierarchy framework : A cross-linguistic investigation, Journal of Pragmatics 42: 1770-1785. Lambrecht K. (2001) Dislocation. In: M. Haspelmath et al. (eds.) Language typology and language universals. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter (vol.2: 1050-1078). Prince, E. F. (1998) On the limits of syntax, with reference to Left-Dislocation and Topicalization. In: P. Culicover & L. McNally (eds.), The limits of syntax. NY: Academic Press. (pp. 281-302). Shaer, B., P. Cook, W. Frey & C. Maienborn (eds.) (2009) Dislocated elements in discourse. London: Routledge


Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2012
 Publication Status: Not specified
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Title: the 45th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea
Place of Event: Department of Linguistics, Stockholm University, Sweden
Start-/End Date: 2012-08-29 - 2012-09-01

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