Discourse and the syntax of the left periphery

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In this work I consider the properties of Clitic Left Dislocation (CLLD) and Hanging Topic (HT) in Italian. Rizzi (1997) proposed that the syntactic space pertaining to the complementizer must be conceived of as a layer, i.e. as a set of hierarchically ordered projections, including those for contrastive focus and topics. In the literature following this hypothesis, a focused phrase is argued to be moved, whereas topics such as CLLD and HT are analyzed as base generated in the left periphery. Here I argue that their unmoved status follows from their very special syntax, given that the heads projecting the phrases where they are hosted belong to a peculiar category, i.e. they are prosody- oriented heads. Prosody-oriented heads are not associated to a lexical content, but to a phonological one, i.e. are read off at the interface with phonology as instructions for the assignment of prosodic values. The properties and distribution of CLLD and HT will be shown to follow from this hypothesis.


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