Manuel Leonetti & Victoria Escandell-Vidal (Madrid)
Information structure in subordinate clauses
Research on so-called Main Clause Phenomena has often addressed the issue of the informational articulation of subordinate clauses. Most scholars have concentrated on phenomena affecting the left periphery of clausal structure, such as clitic dislocation and focalization in embedded sentences. In this talk, we intend to analyse word order patterns -basically VOS- in subordinate clauses that do not involve the left periphery but nevertheless reveal interesting aspects of the relation between syntax and information structure. In particular, restrictive relative clauses (RRC) and appositive relative clauses (ARC) exhibit a different behavior with respect to focus structure: only appositive relative clauses can have focus / background articulation, whereas restrictive relative clauses lack focus structure. This is due to the fact that ARC are assertions, but RRC convey presupposed content. This suggests that syntactic configurations do not establish information structure in a blind, automatic way; rather syntax introduces constraints on possible informational articulations. Therefore, displaying a focus / background articulation is not an inherent property of syntactic structures per se, but of asserted content only.