Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/11707/3615
Title: Syntax and Semantics of Dislocation Focus Construction in Cantonese
Authors: Cheung, Lawrence Y. L.
Keywords: Sino-Tibetan Languages
Chinese Languages
Cantonese
Issue Date: 2005
Publisher: UCLA
Abstract: It has been recognized that Dislocation Focus Construction (the DFC) (also called Right Dislocation or Afterthought construction) in Cantonese (and Mandarin) performs some important discourse functions such as parenthetical and so-called conversational repair. Recent studies (Packard 1996, Cheung 1997, Law 2003) show that the DFC possesses a number of interesting and unique syntactic characteristics. In this thesis, I will first establish some crucial syntactic tests based on reconstruction effects to diagnose the DFC. Although some of these observations have been made in earlier studies, they have not been systematically used as probes to analyze some fundamental issues about the structure of the DFC. In particular, there was some confusion of the DFC with parataxis. I will follow Cheung (1997) in assuming that the main sentence and the so-called afterthought are not only related to each other pragmatically but also governed by grammatical principles. Grammatical principles are found to play an important role in this parenthetical construction. This thesis also has provided some new findings about the semantic aspects of the DFC. the DFC modifies the focus the sentence and restricts the domain for focus in the Focus Phrase. Unlike syntactic interpretation, the semantic interpretation of the DFC is determined by interpreting the focus in-situ instead of reconstructing it back to its original site. This has been shown by question/answer pairs and the interaction of negation and the DFC. Towards the end, an account of the DFC has been put forward to explain many of its parallels with Nuclear Stress Rule concerning a cluster the Spine Constraint, Visibility Condition and focus property. An abstract focus assignment rule is posited to unify the two phenomena. While the focus property is realized as nuclear pitch accent in English, it is realized as overt movement as the DFC in Cantonese. The findings suggest that focus assignment is not determined purely pragmatically. Grammatical principles also constrain some types of focus assignment.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/11707/3615
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