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Research Article

The Limiting Topic

Giorgio Carella    Università Roma Tre, Italia    

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abstract

In the literature, different types of Topics have been identified and studied in detail (cf. Chafe 1976; Reinhart 1981; Lambrecht 1994; Büring 1997, 2003; Frascarelli, Hinterhölzl 2007), while others have been less considered by scholars. This is the case of the Limiting Topic (LT), whose function is to limit the validity of a propositional content in a specific frame. We investigate in detail the characteristics of this type of Topic in order to answer four major questions: 1) Which types of frame can be activated by LTs? 2) What are the constituents most frequently associated with this type of Topic? 3) Is there a prosodic contour systematically associated with LTs? 4) Following the idea of CG as a file-card system (cf. Reinhart 1981), which role do they play in discourse dynamics? Based on corpus evidence, it is shown that: (i) the most common frames activated by LTs are spatial and temporal ones; (ii) LTs, although sharing some properties with Büring’s C-Topics, show the specificity of an independent category. In particular, it is claimed that LTs create a ‘subfolder’ in Reinhart’s sentence Topic (considered as a file-card), with a specific conversational function, namely, a faster retrieval of information.

Keywords: Topic. Scene-setting. Information structure. File-card.

Language: en

Published: Sept. 1, 2015  

permalink: http://doi.org/10.14277/2385-3034/AnnOc-49-15-19

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License