LINGUIST List 14.3157

Tue Nov 18 2003

Diss: Syntax: Arnaudova: 'Focus and Bulgarian...'

Editor for this issue: Takako Matsui <>


  1. oarnaou, Focus and Bulgarian Clause Structure

Message 1: Focus and Bulgarian Clause Structure

Date: Sun, 16 Nov 2003 13:54:11 -0500 (EST)
From: oarnaou <>
Subject: Focus and Bulgarian Clause Structure

Institution: University of Ottawa
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2003

Author: Olga P Arnaudova

Dissertation Title: Focus and Bulgarian Clause Structure

Linguistic Field: Syntax

Subject Language: Bulgarian (code: BLG)

Dissertation Director 1: Maria-Luisa Rivero

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation examines several properties of the Bulgarian clause
from a recent perspective on focus and intonation (Cinque 1993,
Zubizarreta 1998, Kiss 1998, among others) and the Minimalist Program
(Chomsky 1995 and later). Word orders are argued to be determined in
two components of the grammar: one conditioned by the computational
system and hosting also uninterpretable focus features, and one, where
intonation and focus interact.

Semantically, focus is claimed to be a predication function with two
manifestations. In one, the function of subject of predication or
topic (Reinhart 1995) needs to be identified; in the other, a
presuppositional assertion containing a variable or a set of
alternatives needs to be properly saturated. These two types of foci,
respectively labeled predication focus and argument focus, are shown
to have various manifestations in Bulgarian clause structures.

Discourse operators in the CP-part of the clause can host topics
("subjects of predication") realized as subjects, objects, and
prepositional phrases, while the clause 'proper' (VP (IP)) contains
the clitics (argument variables). The domain of predication focus is
the VP (IP). Based on work by Baker 1996 and Jelinek 1984 for
Amerindian languages, and incorporating ideas from Iatridou 1991 and
Rudin 1997, my analysis for Bulgarian assumes that predication is thus
realized at two levels: the CP-part of the clause containing several
unordered 'subjects of predication' and the predication focus domain,
containing either nominals and full pronouns or clitic variables.

Argument focus is shown to have two manifestations: information focus
and contrastive focus. Information focus occurs when a
presuppositional assertion contains a variable, and contrastive focus
(cf. Kiss's 1998 'identificational focus') when the assertion includes
a set of alternatives, restricted or otherwise. Information focus is
obtained by the interaction of the Nuclear stress rule with the
hierarchical order of arguments, and through the Focus Prosody
rule. Instances of P(rosodic)-movement are shown to fix mismatches
between the Nuclear stress rule and the Focus Prosody rule deriving
subject-final orders and PP-DP restructurings.

Contrastive focus is given an account in comparison with the split CP
analysis for the Italian clause, described by Rizzi 1997. For
Bulgarian declaratives and wh-questions, it is proposed that a formal
focus feature triggers movement to the highest functional projection
in the IP field - T/Agr or a Mood Phrase (Rivero 1994). It is also
shown that dislocated topics are never found below focused items
spreading in Bulgarian 'upwards' rather than 'downwards'.


Chomsky, N. 1995. The Minimalist Program. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
Cinque G. 1993 A Null Theory of Phrase and Compound Stress. Linguistic
Inquiry 24:239-298. 
Kiss, K. E. 1998. Identificational Focus versus Information focus.,
Language 74:245-268.
Reinhart, T. 1995 Interface strategies. Ms., OTS, Universiteit
Utrecht. Published 1997. Interface economy: Focus and markedness. In
The role of economy principles in linguistic theory, ed. Chris Wilder,
Hans-Martin Gļæ½rtner, and Manfred Bierwisch, 146-169. Berlin: Akademie
Rivero, M. L. 1994. Clause Structure and V-movement in the Languages
of the Balkans, Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 12.63-120.
Rizzi, L. 1997. The Fine Structure of the Left Periphery. In Elements
of Grammar, ed. by L. Haegeman, 281-337. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academics
Rudin, C. 1997. AgrO and Bulgarian Pronominal Clitics. In M. Lindseth
and S. Franks, eds. Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics 5. Ann
Arbor, MI: Michigan Slavic Publications, 224-52.
Zubizarreta M.L 1998. Prosody, Focus and Word Order, Cambridge,
Mass.:MIT Press.
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