The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 10/24 - Sherry Chen (MIT)

Speaker: Sherry Chen (MIT)
Title: Double topicalization, I find really interesting
Date and time: Tuesday October 24, 1-2pm
Location: 32-D461

Whether Chinese topics are syntactically constrained remains a debatable issue. In this talk, I present on-going work suggesting that in double topicalization constructions, the base- generated topic must precede the moved topic, and if both topics are derived via movement, the two intersecting movement paths must be in a “nested” relation (i.e. the Path Contain ment Constraint, Pesetsky (1982)). This challenges the view that Chinese topics are only constrained by a semantic “aboutness” relation with the comment clause (cf. Xu and Lan- gendoen, 1985), and provides new cross-linguistic evidence for PCC effects (see Appendix).

For the second part of this talk, I discuss a new puzzle regarding topicalization in embedded environments. Specifically, I observe that for certain predicates in non-asserted contexts (Hooper & Thompson, 1973; Miyagawa, to appear), embedded topicalization is possible only if the matrix subject binds a pronoun or a reflexive ziji in the embedded clause.