Topic, Antitopic and Verb Agreement in Non-Standard French

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The author describes and explains the syntactic and pragmatic properties of the nominal and pronominal elements in sentences of the types <i>Ces Romains ils sont fous</i> and <i>Ils sont fous, ces Romains</i>, which, in spite of their frequent occurrence, have so far received little attention among linguists and grammarians. He argues that far from having the marginal status of a linguistic anomaly, the cooccurrence in the same clause of coreferential nouns and pronouns is one formal manifestation of an important functional principle in modern French: the encoding of a topic-comment relationship in the surface structure of the sentence. The pronouns in sentences such as the ones mentioned are interpreted as agreement markers. The syntactic and semantic differences between topics and anti-topics are analyzed.

Subjects: Syntax; Pragmatics; Romance linguistics

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