The Interaction of Focus and Givenness in Italian Clause Structure

The Interaction of Focus and Givenness in Italian Clause Structure

by Vieri Samek-Lodovici


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This is an open access title available under the terms of a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence. It is free to read at Oxford Scholarship Online and offered as a free PDF download from OUP and selected open access locations.

This book provides an in-depth investigation of contrastive focalization in Italian, showing that its syntactic expression systematically interacts with the syntactic expression of discourse-given phrases. Vieri Samek-Lodovici disentangles the properties genuinely associated with contrastive focalization from those determined by highly productive operations affecting discourse given phrases in Italian, namely right dislocation and marginalization. Based on a vast aggregate of evidence, he shows that in the default case contrastive focalization occurs in situ and that left-peripheral focalization patterns arise from the interaction with right dislocation and generalize well beyond the familiar cases examined in Rizzi (1997) and most literature since. In the final chapter, the author examines how the key properties unveiled in the previous sections, such as focalization in situ, follow from the prosodic constraints governing stress placement, thus reinterpreting and extending Zubizarreta's (1998) insight about the role of prosody in shaping syntax.

Overall, the book offers an evidence-backed radical departure from current views of focalization proposing a high, fixed, focus projection at the left periphery of the clause. It also provides the most comprehensive study of Italian marginalization and right dislocation available to date.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780198737933
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 11/17/2015
Series: Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics (Paperback)
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Vieri Samek-Lodovici is a Reader in theoretical linguistics at University College London. He has published several articles on the syntax of focalization and its interaction with prosody and discourse givenness. He has also worked on a wide range of other topics, including argument structure, agreement, optimality theory, and the relation between optimality theory and minimalism. At the beginning of his career, he worked for several years as a computational linguist.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Marginalization
3. Contrastive focus and marginalization
4. Right dislocation
5. Contrastive focus and right dislocation
6. The role of prosody
Appendix A: Distribution and licensing of Italian N-words
Appendix B: Evidence for leftward right dislocation
Appendix C: Irrelevance of Ipp phrasing for the analysis of marginalization and left-shift

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