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Topics and topicalisation in Polish

Piotr Cegłowski and Przemysław Tajsner (School of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań)

In this paper we reconsider the status of Polish topicalisation, an instance of overt dislocation operative in the derivation of the shifted OSV order. We argue that the phenomenon splits into two distinct operations; one which is a strictly (narrow)syntactic feature checking displacement, we will call True Topicalisation (TT), and the other with the properties similar, though not analogous to those postulated for Russian Dislocation by Bailyn (2003), which we prefer to call simply Object Fronting (OF). The former type of operation involves a procedure of checking a feature, tradition-ally referred to as TOP, which may now be taken to be a lexically manifested occurrence of EPP, residing in the head of a specialised ToPP, a part of the left periphery (middle field) of a Polish clause. TT is obligatorily triggered as an overt displacement in the cases when the lexical marker to is an element of the lexical array, as in Janka to Ania widziała w kinie. (‘As for John, Ann saw him in the cinema’.). Elsewhere TT may be a covert operation, not necessarily involving a shifted OSV order. Overt OF, in turn, Janka Ania widziała w kinie, (‘John, Ann saw in the cinema’) does not involve movement to a Spec.TopP position, but rather adjunction to the left edge of the clause, or to the outer SpecTP position; these two options are confronted with the restrictions of the phase-bound derivational system of Chomsky (1999, 2000).

The arguments for the distinction between the two types of “topic” displacement are provided from the confrontation of the facts relating to (i) standard syntactic locality constraints on movement, (ii) binding and reconstruction properties, (iii) scope properties, in particular in interaction with distributive quantifiers, (iv) co-occurrence with adverbs and disjuncts, (v) co-occurrence with wh-movement, (vi) interpretative properties.