A quantitative comparative study of right-dislocation in Catalan and Spanish

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Abstract

Since the comparative work by Vallduví (1992, 1994), we know that similar information packagings may resort to completely different formal mechanisms across languages. For instance, right-dislocation (RD) is a highly productive backgrounding strategy in Catalan, but a marginal one in English, resorting in stress shift. To our current understanding, one might take this situation to be a casual state of affairs, or rather, one may raise the stronger hypothesis that understandable and definable factors exist underlying crosslinguistic variation at the syntax/information structure interface. This enterprise has been partially pursued for typologically distant languages (e.g. Catalan vs. English vs. Finnish vs. Turkish), but unlike much recent work in syntax (Kayne, 1996, 2001) very little or no attention has been paid to a microparametric comparative point. Crucially, a finer-grained comparison of closely related languages may shed light on the current hypotheses concerning the syntax/information structure interface. In this paper I will pursue this task, concentrating on the role of RD in two genetically related Romance languages: Catalan, and Spanish. My first goal is to quantify the degree of productivity of RD in these two kindred languages through a corpus based analysis. The second goal is to determine the range of formal mechanisms that Spanish resorts to in order to fulfil the discourse roles typically associated with RD in Catalan. Finally, my third goal will consist of putting forward a hypothesis to explain the factors that determine the quite different discourse management of the formal mechanisms available in these two languages. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1946-1961
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Volume43
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2011

Keywords

  • Catalan
  • Information structure
  • Right-dislocation
  • Spanish
  • Syntax
  • Topic

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