Nolda, Andreas. 2008. "Topic integration: syntax and semantics of German 'split topicalization'"
Nolda, Andreas. 2008. "Topic integration: syntax and semantics of German 'split topicalization'".

In: Robin Sackmann (ed). Explorations in Integrational Linguistics: four essays on German, French, and Guaraní. (Studies in Integrational Linguistics, 1). Amsterdam; Philadelphia: Benjamins. (= Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 285). 191–220.


A. Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Terminological preliminaries
  3. Alternative analyses in the literature
    3.1 Overview
    3.2 The topic expression and the related expression as a discontinuous noun group
    3.3 The related expression as a secondary predicate
    3.4 The topic expression as a syntactically incorporated predicate part
  4. An integrational analysis of topic integration instances
    4.1 Overview
    4.2 Syntax
    4.3 Propositional and referential semantics
    4.4 Semantics of accent occurrences
  5. The topic integration construction
    5.1 Overview
    5.2 Definition of 'topic integration'
    5.3 Identification of topic integration in German
  6. Summary and outlook

B. Abstract

This paper outlines the syntax and semantics of the German topic integration construction, generally known as "split topicalization". A typical instance of this construction is given in (1):
  (1)   Rotwein   habe   ich   nur   französischen
      red wine   have   I   only   French
Following the introductory section 1, section 2 distinguishes several readings of the construction term "topic integration":
  1. "topic integration" as denoting a syntactic construction as a universal entity (the topic construction);
  2. "topic integration" as denoting a syntactic construction (a topic construction) in a given linguistic system;
  3. "topic integration" as denoting a construction instance (a topic construction instance) in a lexically and structurally disambiguated syntactic expression of a given system.
A formal account of this distinction in the framework of Integrational Linguistics is suggested. In addition, the terms "topic expression" and "related expression" are introduced for the two characteristic subexpressions of topic integration instances, denoting Rotwein and französischen in (1), respectively.
Section 3 reviews three prominent alternatives for the analysis of German topic integration instances that were proposed by other authors. According to the first analysis, the topic expression and the related expression together form a discontinuous noun group with analogous syntactic function occurrences as in a continuous variant thereof. The second analysis treats the related expression similarly to a 'floating quantifier' — viz. as a secondary predicate relative to the subject or object of the sentence. The third analysis of topic integration instances assumes that the topic expression is syntactically incorporated into the predicate; the complex predicate then takes the related expression as a complement. All of these analyses are rejected for empirical reasons.
In Section 4, the author presents his own syntactic and semantic analysis of German topic integration instances by the example of (1). Presupposing the framework of Integrational Linguistics, he argues that the topic expression simultaneously functions as a syntactic topic of the remaining part of the topic integration instance and as a syntactic antecedent of the related expression. Semantically, the syntactic 'topic-comment articulation' is mirrored by a partition of the proposition into a topic part and a comment part. The topic part introduces the set of entities the speaker generic-distributively refers to by the topic expression. Due to the antecedent relation between the topic expression and the related expression, certain quantifiers in the comment part are restricted to elements of the set introduced in the topic part, giving rise to a frame-setting effect of the topic expression. Semantic effects of accent occurrences are exemplified for a rise-fall accentuation of (1) with narrow accent domains.
Section 5 provides a tentative definition of the construction name as a name for a topic-comment construction with specific semantics and an identification of the construction in German, where the topic expression is typically 'integrated' into the 'prefield' of the sentence.
The paper concludes with a summary and a brief outlook.