Movement constraints on the relative order of double topics in Mandarin Chinese

Sherry Yong Chen

Abstract


This paper presents new data for two movement constraints on the relative order of double topics in Mandarin Chinese. I first show that in a double topicalisation construction, the base-generated topic must precede the moved topic, which can be explained by the locality constraint on movement, following the idea of minimal effort that places shortness requirement on movement operations (Li, 2000). Secondly, when both topics are derived via movement, their dependency relations with the corresponding gaps in the comment clause must be ‘nested’. This can be accounted for by the Path Containment Constraint proposed by Pesetsky (1982), which requires the paths of movement to be in a containment relation. These findings challenge the view that Chinese topics are merely constrained via a semantic “aboutness” relation with the comment clause (cf. Xu & Langendoen, 1985), suggesting that topicalisation in Mandarin Chinese is subject to syntactic constraints. 


Keywords


syntax, movement, Mandarin Chinese, information structure, topicalisation

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