Contrastive topics and foci in Brazilian Portuguese : ordering effects and interpretation

Author: Assmann, Muriel
Source document: Linguistica Brunensia. 2020, vol. 68, iss. 1, pp. 41-59
  • ISSN
    1803-7410 (print)
    2336-4440 (online)
This paper discusses the ordering effects of contrastive topics and foci in Brazilian Portuguese. I will show that the distribution of CT and F in BP strikingly parallels that observed for Dutch in Neeleman – Van de Koot (2008): 1) it is possible for a focus to precede a contrastive topic, as long as this configuration respects the canonical word order of the syntactic constituents, and 2) it is impossible for a focus to move across a contrastive topic. I propose to interpret sentences with a contrastive topic using the Topic Abstraction account (Constant 2014), in which a contrastive topic is simply an F-marked phrase in a specific configuration (more precisely, an F phrase that has raised to the CT-λ position). Building on the Topic Abstraction account, I propose a simple additional condition that captures Neeleman – Van de Koot's (2008) generalization for Dutch as well as the BP data: a focus interpretation of the moved F is blocked by the CT-λ, and that's why F>CT is impossible in configurations where one of the Fs has moved.
  • This work was supported by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), project grant P29180-G23, Unalternative Constraints Crosslinguistically.
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