Topic marking

Unlike other areas of grammatical structure, the recognition and definition of pragmatic categories such as topic and focus, is a recent phenomenon and theory independent definitions of pragmatic categories are difficult to find. Givón summarizes the early history of the term in Prague School and subsequent functionalist camps as follows:

: The Prague School tradition (cf. Firbas 1966; 1974; Bolinger 1954; Halliday 1967; Kuno 1972) saw the clause as divided into a topic and non-topic component, but supplied no grammar-independent non-intuitive tests for topicality. The topic (or 'theme') was said to be 'talked about', 'old', 'presupposed', or 'given' information (Givón 1990, vol. 2, p. 900).

Topicalization and topic maintenance remain central components of on-going work in functionalist and discourse analytical circles, but in the late 90's, it has also grown increasingly important in formalist, syntactic work. Perhaps the best known of the early papers on the role of topic in generative syntax is Rizzi's "The Fine Structure of the Left Periphery" (1997).


*Zólyomi, Gábor. 1993. <i>Voice and Topicalization in Sumerian</i>. Doctoral dissertation, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. *Zólyomi, Gábor. 1996. Genitive Constructions in Sumerian. <i>Journal of Cuneiform Studies</i> 48: 31-47.

sumerian/topic_marking.txt · Last modified: 2008/08/14 12:29 (external edit)
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