[Lingtyp] Topic and focus markers with other functions

Patrick McConvell patrick.mcconvell at anu.edu.au
Thu Aug 1 08:03:08 UTC 2019

There are quite a lot of languages in which the focus marker is the copula or a  development from it. I wrote about this in Hausa in my Ph.D thesis long ago:

1973 Ph.D. awarded by SOAS, University of London, for thesis

Cleft sentences in Hausa? A syntactic study of focus

Pat McConvell

From: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> on behalf of Kilu von Prince <kilu.von.prince at hu-berlin.de>
Sent: Thursday, 1 August 2019 5:23 PM
To: Frederick J Newmeyer <fjn at uw.edu>
Cc: <LINGTYP at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG> <LINGTYP at listserv.linguistlist.org>
Subject: Re: [Lingtyp] Topic and focus markers with other functions

Hi Frederick,

the Chinese copula is an obvious candidate. I'm shamelessly self-promoting the article I wrote about its semantics in both functions, see attached.

All the best,

On Thu, Aug 1, 2019 at 1:09 AM Frederick J Newmeyer <fjn at uw.edu<mailto:fjn at uw.edu>> wrote:

Dear Lingtyp,

I am looking for examples where topic markers or focus markers in some language are clearly members of some broad morphosyntactic category.

Let me give an example involving negatives of the sort of thing that I am looking for. Negative elements in various languages are often members of a broader category: in Estonian negative particles are auxiliaries, in Tongan they are complement-taking verbs, in English they are adverbs, and so on.

So what I am looking for are parallel examples with topic and focus markers: cases where a reasonable analysis would assign them to some broader category.



Frederick J. Newmeyer
Professor Emeritus, University of Washington
Adjunct Professor, U of British Columbia and Simon Fraser U
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Dr. Kilu von Prince

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Dorotheenstraße 24
Raum 3.410
10099 Berlin
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