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Light, Caitlin: The information structure of subject extraposition in Early New High German

This paper investigates the information-structural characteristics of extraposed subjects in Early New High German (ENHG). Based on new quantitative data from a parsed corpus of ENHG, I will argue that unlike objects, subjects in ENHG have two motivations for extraposing. First, subjects may extrapose in order to receive narrow focus, which is the pattern Bies (1996) has shown for object extraposition in ENHG. Secondly, however, subjects may extrapose in order to receive a default sentence accent, which is most visible in the case of presentational constructions. This motivation does not affect objects, which may achieve the same prosodic goal without having to extrapose. The study has two major consequences: (1) subject extraposition in ENHG demonstrates that there is not necessarily a one-to-one correspondence between syntactic structure and information structural effect (cf. Féry 2007); and (2) the overall phenomenon of DP extraposition in ENHG fits into a broader set of crosslinguistic focus phenomena which demonstrate a subject-object asymmetry (cf. Hartmann and Zimmermann 2007, Skopeteas and Fanselow 2010), raising important questions about the relationship between argument structure and information structural notions.

Maintained by Stefan Müller

Created: November 16, 2011
Last modified: January 09, 2019

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