The Limiting Topic

Giorgio Carella    Università Roma Tre, Italia    



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.

Sept. 1, 2015

Keywords: TopicInformation structureScene-settingFile-card

Copyright: © 2015 Giorgio Carella. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.