In this study we argue that the appropriateness of an answer to a why-question, potentially bearing on multiple contrast classes, is mainly influenced by the focalized argument, which identifies the relevant reference set. The focalization structure, however, interacts in a non-trivial way with the thematic structure and its accessibility, suggesting a general (independent) prominence of the direct object (DO) over the indirect one (IO). In correlation to that, we also observed that DO appears more resistant to extraction compared to IO, while it seems felicitous in a post-IO focalized low position (light NP-shifting). These contrasts are obtained by running five distinct experiments in Italian targeting various dislocation configurations: Four forced choice tasks manipulating leftward dislocation (i) clefting vs. (ii) fronting vs. (iii) clitic left dislocation and (iv) postverbal reordering (canonical DO IO order vs. IO DO) in ditransitive predicates. Then (v) an acceptability judgment study was administered to assess the difficulty in figuring out a licensing context coherent with the argument ordering, provided in the why question. To minimize the interacting factors, all sentences included null subjects and a context was provided for each experimental item in the forced choice tasks, introducing the relevant contrast classes.

Why-questions and focus in Italian

Francesco Beltrame
Conceptualization
;
Cristiano Chesi
Supervision
2021

Abstract

In this study we argue that the appropriateness of an answer to a why-question, potentially bearing on multiple contrast classes, is mainly influenced by the focalized argument, which identifies the relevant reference set. The focalization structure, however, interacts in a non-trivial way with the thematic structure and its accessibility, suggesting a general (independent) prominence of the direct object (DO) over the indirect one (IO). In correlation to that, we also observed that DO appears more resistant to extraction compared to IO, while it seems felicitous in a post-IO focalized low position (light NP-shifting). These contrasts are obtained by running five distinct experiments in Italian targeting various dislocation configurations: Four forced choice tasks manipulating leftward dislocation (i) clefting vs. (ii) fronting vs. (iii) clitic left dislocation and (iv) postverbal reordering (canonical DO IO order vs. IO DO) in ditransitive predicates. Then (v) an acceptability judgment study was administered to assess the difficulty in figuring out a licensing context coherent with the argument ordering, provided in the why question. To minimize the interacting factors, all sentences included null subjects and a context was provided for each experimental item in the forced choice tasks, introducing the relevant contrast classes.
Why-question, focalization, contrast class, fronting, clefting, ClLD, light NP-shift, topicalization, word order, forced-choice task
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12076/10337
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