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  • Date Submitted: 03/19/2015 11:08 AM
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AFLA IX (2002)

Austronesian Formal Linguistics Association

Multiple Topics: Evidence from Malagasy Ileana Paul, University of Western Ontario
Rizzi (1997) proposes a layered CP structure with a focus position sandwiched between two topic projections. At first glance, Malagasy (VOS) provides evidence in favour of this structure, as it is possible to have the linear string topic>focus>topic, all apparently fronted to pre-verbal positions (1). Although Rizzi’s structure could account for (1), it leaves unexplained certain restrictions on these topic and focus positions in Malagasy. I show that only the highest topic is in the CP-layer of the clause. Crucially, the second topic, Rabe, is not in a clausal topic position, but is a possessor of the subject in [Spec, DP]. A more accurate translation of (1) is ‘As for the dirty dishes, Rabe’s washing of them is every day’. The highest topic (ny lovia maloto ‘the dirty dishes’) behaves syntactically like a basegenerated element: it can be related to a resumptive pronoun (not otherwise found in movement constructions) and long-distance topicalization is possible (Malagasy A-bar movement is typically clause-bound). This topic occupies a position in the CP-layer. It can be shown that the focus (isan’andro ‘every day’) is not in the CP-layer. Instead, the focus is the matrix predicate and the subject is a headless relative (2) (Dahl 1986). The particle no is a Do, distinct from the regular determiner ny. Unlike ny, no selects for a TP but it is not a binder (Higginbotham 1983) and the DP thus formed is "defective": the DP contains an open argument position which must be coindexed with the element in the focus position. Hence no DPs only appear in focus constructions and not in argument positions. Furthermore, there are two types of focus constructions: examples such as (3) with a subject focus and examples such as (1) with an adjunct focus. In (3), the headless relative is an agentive nominal. In (1), on the other hand, it is...

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