On the fine structure of the left periphery: The positions of topic and focus in Cantonese

Candice Chi-Hang Cheung

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingChapter in an edited book (as author)Academic researchpeer-review


Wh-fronting constructions in Cantonese have counterparts in Mandarin that have been analyzed as either a type of Topic structure or Focus construction. One goal of this chapter is to argue that wh-fronting constructions in Cantonese are best analyzed as a type of Identificational Focus construction. The second goal of this chapter is to explore the fine structure of the left periphery in Cantonese and its implications for two prominent lines of research on the distribution of Topics and Foci. Specifically, the findings lend empirical support to one line of research that analyzes Topic and Focus as fields, contra the other line of research that analyzes Topics as a set of recursive projections occurring above and below a single Focus projection. The investigation further reveals that the inventory of Topics and Foci available in individual languages and their hierarchical order are the result of the interplay between language-specific and universal principles.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe cartography of Chinese syntax: The cartography of syntactic structures, volume 11 (Oxford Studies in Comparative Syntax)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages56
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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