On the Architecture of Topic and Focus

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The information structure primitives, Topic (top) and Focus (foe) play a central role in grammar, yet it is difficult to make their properties conform to those of other linguistic categories. In this paper, I argue that top and foe are introduced as a part of lexical selection. Rather than assuming that top and foe are heads that project their own phrases (as in e.g., Rizzi 1997), I view top/foe as features which are optionally assigned to lexical items. On a par with (ϕ-features, they may percolate to the maximal projection of the lexical item they are assigned to. I show how such assignment constitutes the focus structure of a sentence. This focus structure, in turn, predicts phonological properties (among them intonation) as well as interpretative properties (among them quantifier scope). It is further shown that dislocation, in this framework, is best seen as a property of PF.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Architecture of Focus
EditorsValéria Molnár , Susanne Winkler
PublisherDe Gruyter Mouton
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9783110922011
ISBN (Print)9783110185782
StatePublished - 22 Dec 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (all)
  • Social Sciences (all)


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