Non-resumptive left dislocation in French Flemish.

01 October 2021 → 30 September 2024
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Corpus linguistics
    • Diachronic linguistics
    • Dialectology
    • Historical linguistics
    • Syntax
left periphery left dislocation syntax-discourse interface dialectology Germanic French Flemish language endangerment (unbalanced) heritage speakers
Project description

Left dislocation (LD) patterns consist of a topic and a comment which says something about the topic. The comment usually contains a resumptive element ('they' in (1), referring to 'the people').

1) The people[i], they[j] are poor.

This project concerns a type of LD in French Flemish (FF, an endangered Germanic variety spoken in Northern France) which has never been described before and is not attested in Standard Dutch. In this type of LD, the connection between topic and comment is not achieved through a resumptive element, but by semantic, pragmatic, or phonological means (such as intonation).

2) Ruisscheure[i] ze[j] zijn raar de Vlamingen[j] Lit. ‘Ruisscheure, they are rare, the Flemish’

By looking at different data types (historical and new recordings and acceptability judgements) and through comparison with other languages in which similar phenomena are found (e.g. French or Mandarin), this study explores three issues:

i. It establishes a typology of the kind of non-resumptive LD patterns in FF,
ii. It examines how they function,
iii. It addresses the question as to why they are found exactly in FF.

The main hypothesis for (ii) is that the patterns cannot be explained purely in syntactic terms. Therefore, I examine to what extent the properties and constraints on the construction are syntactic at all. To explain why they are found exactly in FF (iii), I take into account insights from studies on spontaneous speech, as well as from work on heritage speakers.