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Topic and Focus in Old French V1 and V2 structures Marie Labelle (UQAM) & Paul Hirschbühler (U. d’Ottawa) 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Topic and Focus in Old French V1 and V2 structures Marie Labelle (UQAM) & Paul Hirschbühler (U. d’Ottawa) 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Topic and Focus in Old French V1 and V2 structures Marie Labelle (UQAM) & Paul Hirschbühler (U. d’Ottawa) 1

2 Problem Traditional analysis: Old French = V2 of the Germanic type : – V2 in CP : [ CP XP V [ TP ….]] (e.g. Adams, Vance…) (or V2 in TP : [ TP XP V [ VP ….]] (e.g. Lemieux) ) Rinke & Meisel (2009) : Old French as Topic initial : – V under T; SpecTP = Topic : [ TP XP Top V [ VP …...] Foc ] – R&M: “[Subject] inversion in Old French is contingent on the topicalisation of a non-subject constituent” (like contemp. It., Sp., Port.) – R&M: “An incompatibility of the post-verbal subject with an interpretation as information focus or as part of a thetic sentence would cause the subject to move to the pre-verbal position.” (p.17) 2

3 Rinke & Meisel German Preverbal constituent – topic – informational focus – contrastive focus – adverb that is neither topic nor focus Postverbal subject – topic – (part of the) focus Old French Preverbal constituent – topic – adverb that links with the previous discourse (+/- topic) Postverbal subject – (part of the) focus (based on Villehardouin & Les 7 sages de Rome, beginning 13th c.) 3

4 Old High German (Hinterhölzl & Petrova) Hinterhölzl & Petrova (2005, 2010) : «... the position of the finite verb serves to distinguish the information-structural domains of Topic and Focus in sentences of the Old High German period. » (2005:2) – verb-second = topic initial : [XP giv/acc ] TOP [V fin...…] COMMENT/FOCUS – verb-initial = all focus : [V fin …XP new …] FOCUS (Modern German = grammaticalization of V2) Hinterhölzl & Petrova Rhetorical Relations and Verb Placement in Early Germanic Languages : Evidence from the Old High German Tatian Translation (9 th century) 4

5 Aims of the study Evaluate the hypothesis that, in Old French, the preverbal position hosts topics & that constituents belonging to the focus remain in postverbal position. Identify and date eventual grammatical changes in the discursive functions of preverbal elements and postverbal subjects. Evaluate the possibility that a Topic-first stage intervened in the transition from V2 to SVO: V2 > Topic first > Subject first 5

6 Definitions Topic “The topic constituent identifies the entity or set of entities under which the information expressed in the comment constituent should be stored in the [Common Ground] content.” (Krifka 2007 Basic notions of information structure) Typically a definite constituent, referring to an entity given in the discourse or accessible. 6

7 Information focus Pragmatic principle of progression (e.g. Charolles 1978): If a sentence is to be informative, it must contain material that is new in relation to previously known information. The part of the sentence containing new information that should be stored in the common ground. Gundel & Fretheim (2004) : Topic/Information Focus = Theme/Rheme, Topic/Comment... : relationally given/new information respectively. (In Handbook of Pragmatic Theory.) 7

8 Definitions Information focus Some sentences may be all-focus (Thetic) – e.g. presentative sentences: There are two cats in the garden. Büring (2005:5): not all the information in a comment is new: A: When did [Aristotle Onassis] Topic marry Jacqueline Kennedy? B: [He] Topic [married her [in 1968] Focus ]] Comment (Krifka 2007: ex. 41) « a focused expression would be an informative part of the sentence, a backgrounded one an uninformative one. » 8

9 Definitions Contrastive Focus Contrastive Focus : “material which the speaker calls to the addressee’s attention, thereby often evoking a contrast with other entities that might fill the same position.” (Gundel & Fretheim 2004) (Krifka 2007: Focus indicates the presence of alternatives that are relevant for the interpretation of linguistic expressions.) 9

10 Definitions Contrastive Focus Contrastive Focus : “material which the speaker calls to the addressee’s attention, thereby often evoking a contrast with other entities that might fill the same position.” (Gundel & Fretheim 2004) (Krifka 2007: Focus indicates the presence of alternatives that are relevant for the interpretation of linguistic expressions.) May be marked by expressions like: even, only, also 10

11 Definitions Contrastive Focus Contrastive Focus : “material which the speaker calls to the addressee’s attention, thereby often evoking a contrast with other entities that might fill the same position.” (Gundel & Fretheim 2004) (Krifka 2007: Focus indicates the presence of alternatives that are relevant for the interpretation of linguistic expressions.) May be marked by expressions like: even, only, also A contrastive focus may be part of a topic. – A: What do your siblings do? – B: [My [SIster] Focus ] Topic [studies MEDicine] Focus, and [my [BROther] Focus ] Topic is [working on a FREIGHT ship] Focus. 11

12 The corpus 19 parsed Old French texts dated between 980 and 1309 (7 in verse, 12 in prose – from MCVF & Penn supplement) All positive declarative matrix IP’s with a full DP subject V1 and V2 clauses only 12

13 V1 clauses Are post-verbal subjects in V1 clauses always (part of) the focus of the clause? 13

14 V1 clauses other than those where V introduces direct discourse* Taking into account the context, coding of subjects as being – T = Topics; F = (part of) Information Focus; Unclear (Only strict V1 clauses considered, i.e. not introduced by a coordinator) *These will be discussed independently. 14

15 V1 clauses other than those where V introduces direct discourse* Taking into account the context,we coded subjects as being – T = Topics; F = (part of) Information Focus; Unclear “It does not seem that the postverbal position in V1 sentences is pragmatically specialized.” (Rouveret 2004: 196) (Only strict V1 clauses considered, i.e. not introduced by a coordinator) *These will be discussed independently. 15 FocusTopicUnclear %34%16.5%

16 Examples Topic subjects Curecerent s' en les princes des Philistiens get-angry-PST refl-gen the princes of the Philistians ‘Got angry at this the princes of the Philistians’ (1170-QLR1-2,.1332) Cunuit Brandans a l' air pluius ‘knew Brendan from the wet wind Que li tens ert mult annüus. ‘that the weather was very worrysome’ (1120-BRENDAN,56.675) 16

17 Alternation between Topic & Focus before 1200 V1 declaratives disappear around When they re-emerge at the end of the 13th c., the subjects seem to be foci; but few examples. Orange underline: prose texts 17

18 V1 with verbs introducing direct discourse VS = V1 – Dit Roland: «... » SVX = V2 with preverbal subject – Roland dit: «... » XVS = V2 with a postverbal subject – Ço dit Roland: «... » = preverbal object – Donc dit Roland: «... »= preverbal adverb Same informational function of the subject: signal a new speaker or a change of speaker 18

19 Excluded (subject always postverbal): o Parentheticals: "Deus", dist li quens, "or ne sai jo que face." (1100- ROLAND, ) o Clauses following the direct discourse: "Si fus," (ce) dist li empereres. (1267- CASSIDORUS, ) 19

20 Subjects of verbs introducing direct discourse are almost always definite definiteindefiniteTotal V SVX XVS %0,1%580 20

21 21 VS sentences were replaced, not by XVS sentences, but by SVX sentences.

22 V2 clauses 22

23 Rinke & Meisel German Preverbal constituent – topic – contrastive focus – informational focus – adverb that is neither topic nor focus Postverbal subject – topic – (part of the) focus Old French Preverbal constituent – topic – adverb that links with the previous discourse (+/- topic) Postverbal subject – (part of the) focus (based on Villehardouin & Les 7 sages de Rome, beginning 13th c.) 23

24 Can a contrastive focus be preverbal? 24 YES.

25 Contrastive focus - subjects Meïsmes la pucele y fu, ‘even the girl was there’(1267-CASSIDORUS, ) Sul David é Jonathas le sourent. ‘only David and Jonathan knew it’(1170 QLR1-2,.757) nes li oisel s' an istront fors; ‘even the birds will leave’ (1170-YVAIN,13.394) 25

26 Contrastive focus – non-subjects Meïsmes a l' empereour sont les lermes venues aus yex, ‘even to the emperor have the tears come to the eyes’ (1267-CASSIDORUS, ) Et li jorz meïsmes fu emprise la queste dou saint Graal... ‘and that very day was started the quest for the holy Grail’ (1225-QUESTE, ) Example with a null subject : del tranchant, non mie del plat, le fiert... ‘with the cutting edge, not with the flat side, (he) hits him’ (1170-YVAIN, ) 26

27 Subjects Given that: – Definite subjects tend to be topics; – Indefinite subjects make bad topics & are often found in thetic sentences; Is there a tendency to find definite subjects preverbally and indefinite subjects postverbally? 27

28 Strictly V2 clauses: 28

29 Whether preverbally or postverbally, definite subjects strongly dominate. A large number of the post-verbal definite subjects should be topics. (Not quantified) 29

30 Indefinite subjects appear more often in postverbal position: Increase in tendency of indef. sbj. to appear in postverbal position: Total number of indefinites:

31 Can preverbal subjects be part of the information focus? 31 YES.

32 Examples Preverbal indefinite subjects = focus Uns seinz hermites i maneit ‘A saint hermit lived there’ (1180-MARIE-DE-FRANCE, ) Une musteile vint curant, ‘A weasel came running’ (1180-MARIE-DE-FRANCE, ) Doi gentil homme du paÿs, qui pas ne l' amoient, saillirent hors a un trespas, ‘Two gentlemen of the country, who didn’t like him, jumped out at a passage’(1267-CASSIDORUS, ) 32

33 Preverbal constituents that can’t be topics & are part of information focus Adj, Q, Pred, Non-finite V 33

34 Preverbal Q, non finite V QP: Mut est Lanval Top en grant esfreie! ‘much is Lanval in great fright’ (1180-Marie de France, ) nfV: Trenchet li ad li quens Top le destre poign, cut him has the count the right hand ‘The count cut his right hand’ (1100 Roland, ) 34

35 Preverbal adj, pred. adj: Malade ot geü longuemant la pucele, ‘sick has laid a-long-time the girl’ (1177-YVAIN, ) prd: Male chose est murmure, ‘bad thing is whisper’ (1279-SOMME-ROYAL,1, ) 35

36 Objects Is a preverbal object an informational topic or focus? There was a change. 36

37 Work of Marchello-Nizia (1995) Roland (1100) [verse] OV(S) extremely frequent, all types of O’s – O more often rhematic than thematic (M-N. p ) Queste (1225) [prose] OV(S) more limited; serves to – thematize the O – place the rheme in first position (marked) in expressions of type donner conseil (give advice) when O is modified by an intensifier like grant (great), maint (many) (Same found by Zaring (2010) for OV with non-finite verbs) 37

38 253 preverbal objects Preverbal objects tend to be focus before 1220 and topics afterwards. 38

39 Preverbal indefinite focus object.XX. escheles ad li reis anumbrees. ‘twenty columns has the king counted’ (1100-ROLAND, ) et divers chanz chantoit chascuns; ‘and various songs sang each one’ (1170-YVAIN,15.453) 39

40 Preverbal definite focus object La main destre leva adonques la dame, ‘The hand right raised then the lady’(1177 Yvain, ) La maniere comment il pristrent la cité de Baudas et le calife nous conterent les marcheans; ‘The manner how they took the city of Baudas and the calife told us the merchants’ (1309 Joinville, ) 40

41 Preverbal adverbials and PP’s Are they topics? Preverbal adverbs & PP are rarely the topic. They may (or not) link with the previous discourse. Postverbal definite subjects tend to be topics (still to quantify) 41

42 Preverbal focus PP En grant effrei erent amdui. ‘In great fright were both (of them)’ (1180-MARIE-DE-FRANCE,20.359) Here the PP is clearly the informational focus The post-verbal subject is the topic. 42

43 Preverbal PP linking with discourse Por ce panse mes sire Yvains qu' il l' ocirra premieremant; ‘For this thinks my lord Yvains that he will kill him first’ (1177-YVAIN, ) Del colp chancelad li gluz ‘At the blow faltered the giant’ (1170 QLR1-2,.470) The postverbal subjects are the topics; The preverbal PP may link with the previous discourse without being the topic. 43

44 Preverbal adv + topic subject Si demora laienz Perceval avec s' antain. ‘thus stayed there Perceval with his aunt’ (1225-QUESTE, ) donc pres Lethgiers a predier, ‘ thus starts Leger to pray’(0980-SAINT-LEGER,XXXI.206) Puis vait li emfes l' emperethur servir. ‘then goes the child the emperor to serve’ (1090-SAINT-ALEXIS,7.80) 44

45 Is there an evolution? What is the distribution of preverbal constituents in V2 sentences with a full DP subject? (6336 clauses) 45

46 Other = acc, dat, adj, pred, non-fin V. Means XP V : Verse: sbj = 55%; avp+pp = 31%; other = 14% Prose: sbj = 57%; avp+pp = 39%; other = 5%) 46 Only V2 clauses not introduced by a coordinator

47 Coord = et, ou, mais, car (/que) Sentences of type : coord XP V 47

48 Stronger tendency of coordinated sentences to be SVX. Coord. = et, ou, mais, car (/que) 48

49 All V2 sentences: strictly V2 + coord. V2 Coord.: et, ou, mais, car (/que) Means XP V : Verse: sbj = 58%; avp+pp = 29%; other = 17% Prose: sbj = 64%; avp+pp = 33%; other = 5%) 49

50 XP V and coord XP V: 50

51 Constituents in the prefield in German & Swedish (Bohnacker & Rosen 2007 :34 & 36) SubjectsObjectsAdverbialsOthers German newspapers 54%6.6%36.8%2.5% German informal 50%7% 42%1% Swedish newsp. 64%2.3%30.8%3% Swedish informal 73%3% 23%2% 51 SubjectsObjectsAdv. & PP’sOthers OF Verse58%7%29%10% OF Prose64%3%33%2% Old French (XP V & coord XP V) (XP V only: sbj = 55%, 57%; avp+pp = 31%, 39%; other = 14%, 5%.)

52 Bohnacker & Rosen (2007) Both Swedish and German tend to: – start declaratives with a subject – let the subject coincide with the theme and topic – place the theme before the rheme But Swedish has a stronger tendency to: – place the rheme after the verb; – start with an element of low informational value and with a phonologically light element (e.g. expletive, det, så) – use few fronted objects; typically fronts objects that are themes 52

53 Different uses of the prefield in different V2 languages Distribution of constituents in the prefield similar in OF and in Germanic languages. Evolution from V2 German to V2 Swedish ? (Conflation of 2 variables: time & genre) 53

54 Conclusions (1) Is there evidence that OF was Topic initial? No : – In OF, a preverbal element may be : – topic – informational focus – contrastive focus – adverbial that is neither topic nor focus – Distribution of types of preverbal constituents not markedly different between OF and German/Swedish 54

55 Conclusions (2) Is there a constraint that forces a subject to move to the preverbal position if it is a topic? No: – In OF, a postverbal subject may be a topic or a part of the focus 55

56 Conclusion (3) Is there a tendency for the language to become more topic initial? Potential indicators of a change in progress: – V1 sentences : No topic subjects after 1170 (few examples) – V2 sentences: Fewer preverbal object focus after Increase in the tendency to find indefinite subjects postverbally Differences between prose and verse in the variety of preverbal constituents. But no evidence of a clear grammatical change before 1309 (in sentences with a full DP subject). 56

57 Conclusion (4) From an information structure viewpoint, OF is V2 of the germanic type until the end of the 13th c. But there might have been a change from V2 German to V2 Swedish To do: – Quantify the IS nature of DP subjects in all the V2 clauses; – Study V2 clauses with pronominal and null subjects. – Study V3 declaratives 57

58 Thank you! 58

59 \0980: (*LEGER* inID) \1090: (*ALEXIS* inID) \1120: (*BRENDAN* inID) \1100: (*ROLAND* inID) \1150: (*WILLELME* inID) \1170: (*QLR* inID) \1177: (*YVAIN* inID) \1180: (*MARIE* inID) \1194: (*CHIEVRES* inID) \1200: (*AUCASSIN* inID) \1205: (*CLARI* inID) \1220: (*PSEUDOTURPIN* inID) \1225: (*QUESTE* inID) \1226: (*AGNES* inID) \1250: (*SERMON* inID) \1267: (*CASSIDORUS* inID) \1279: (*SOMME* inID) \1283: (*Roisin* inID) \1309: (*JOINVILLE* inID) 59


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