A Case of V2 in Chinese

Mercredi 28 Janvier 2015, 15:00 to 17:00
Dylan Wei-Tien Tsai (National Tsing Hua University)
UFR Linguistique LLF UFR LCAO

Salle 681C
Université Paris-Diderot
Bâtiment Grands Moulins, aile C
5 rue Thomas Mann
75013 Paris

In this paper, we put forth the claim that peripheral features play an important role in this endeavor, which can be checked by either external Merge or internal Merge (i.e., Move) according to the parameter-settings of individual languages. Along this line, topic prominence can be regarded as the result of peripheral feature checking, and the null topic hypothesis à la Huang (1984) is reinvented as a null operator merger to fulfill interface economy in the left periphery. In this regard, Chinese provides substantial evidence from obligatory topicalization in outer affective, evaluative, and refutory wh-constructions where a D(efiniteness)-operator plays the central role of licensing relevant construals, as well as pro-drop and bare nominal interpretation in general. In this light, we may well compare Chinese obligatory topicalization to Germanic verb-second (V2), as well as English negative inversion, all being manifestation of the strong uniformity. Topic prominence, is reinvented in this new light: The null topic operator can be regarded as the quantifier part of a definite argument, and a Chinese topic is either an XP in the Spec-head relation with Top, or a discontinuous DP consisting of a peripheral D-operator and an in-situ nominal. This leads us to the conclusion that as far as the left periphery is concerned, there is a conspiracy between syntax, semantics, and pragmatics through either Agree or Move to ensure the success of sentence formation. This is actually a welcome result from the viewpoint of the cartographic approach, because we can easily implement this insight by encoding relevant restrictions with various functional projections in the complementizer layer.