14.788, Diss: Syntax: De Cat "French Dislocation"

LINGUIST List linguist at linguistlist.org
Tue Mar 18 17:08:36 UTC 2003

LINGUIST List:  Vol-14-788. Tue Mar 18 2003. ISSN: 1068-4875.

Subject: 14.788, Diss: Syntax: De Cat "French Dislocation"

Moderators: Anthony Aristar, Wayne State U.<aristar at linguistlist.org>
            Helen Dry, Eastern Michigan U. <hdry at linguistlist.org>

Reviews (reviews at linguistlist.org):
	Simin Karimi, U. of Arizona
	Terence Langendoen, U. of Arizona

Home Page:  http://linguistlist.org/

The LINGUIST List is funded by Eastern Michigan University, Wayne
State University, and donations from subscribers and publishers.

Editor for this issue: Anita Yahui Huang <anita at linguistlist.org>

Thanks to the generosity of our subscribers we were able to reach the
$10,000 mark in record time. Because of this we were able to secure a
$1,500 donation from John Benjamins Publishing - a big thank you to
all the crew at JBs!

But we still have a long way to go! Please help us reach our total of
$50,000 by making a donation at:


The LINGUIST List depends on the generous contributions from
subscribers like you; we would not be able to operate without your

The moderators, staff, and student editors at LINGUIST would like to
take this opportunity to thank you for your continuous support.

To post to LINGUIST, use our convenient web form at

Date:  Tue, 18 Mar 2003 09:51:03 +0000
From:  cdc3 at york.ac.uk
Subject:  Syntax: De Cat "French Dislocation"

-------------------------------- Message 1 -------------------------------

Date:  Tue, 18 Mar 2003 09:51:03 +0000
From:  cdc3 at york.ac.uk
Subject:  Syntax: De Cat "French Dislocation"

Institution: University of York
Program: Department of Language and Linguistic Science
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2003

Author: C├ęcile, De Cat

Dissertation Title: French Dislocation

Linguistic Field: Syntax, Pragmatics, Language Acquisition

Subject Language: French (code: 1843)

Dissertation Director 1: Bernadette Plunkett

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis provides a comprehensive analysis of dislocations in
spoken French. In dislocated constructions, an element appears in the
left- or right-periphery of the sentence and is usually resumed by
another element inside the sentence. Most dislocated elements are
topics. Topics usually encode what the sentence is about:

(1) Tintin, il est connu.
    Tintin  he is famous

The foundations of this research lie in the establishment of solid
diagnostics for dislocated constructions and a detailed description of
the distribution of dislocated elements in a corpus of spontaneous
speech. This required resolving two controversial issues in the study
of spoken French: (i) I argue that subject clitics are arguments in
the most common varieties of spoken French (against the claim that
such elements are agreement morphemes, e.g. Auger 1994); and (ii) I
show that prosodic diagnostics traditionally used in syntactic
analyses to identify left-dislocated elements are partly unfounded.

This thesis develops a theoretical, modular account of dislocated
constructions in spoken French in terms of syntax and pragmatics. I
provide arguments against previous assumptions on Clitic Left
Dislocation (as in (1)) and demonstrate that dislocated elements are
base-generated. The restrictions on the distribution of dislocated
elements are shown to be pragmatic in nature, and the interpretation
of topics not to be exclusively encoded in syntax, contra Rizzi
(1997). Dislocated topics are argued to be adjoined to a
`performative' maximal projection and interpreted as the frame within
which the predication holds true (following Erteschik-Shir 1997).

The picture is completed by investigations into the acquisition of
dislocated structures in child French. These investigations
demonstrate among other things that (i) what have been claimed to be
target-deviant non-nominative subjects (Schutze 1997) are in fact
target-compliant dislocated subjects with a missing resumptive clitic;
(ii) the presence of dislocated topics expressing the subject has no
effect on the realisation of subjects during the null subject stage;
(iii) the pragmatic knowledge required to encode XP topics is
available from the outset of word combinations, hence children display
signs of "pragmatic" competence earlier than previously assumed
(e.g. Wexler 1998).

Ultimately, this research suggests that Information Structure (the
module responsible for topic encoding and decoding) is an integral
part of Universal Grammar and not part of a separate component.

LINGUIST List: Vol-14-788

More information about the Linguist mailing list