[PS-2.5] Prosody and syntax in three sentence topic types in LIS

Calderone, C.

Ca' Foscari University of Venice

This piece of current research will investigate the prosodic realization and syntactic distribution of three types of topics in LIS: aboutness topics (AbT) namely old/given information which state «what the sentence is about», scene setting topics (ScT) which set spatial or temporal framework within which the main predication holds and contrastive topics (CT), indicating alternatives among given/old information. Spontaneous and elicited data have been collected by three native signers. Four recurring tendencies have been detected: (i) raised eyebrows (mostly marking AbT); (ii) raised eyebrow + squint eye (marking subjects AbT and ScT locations); (iii) a combination of head forward + squint eye + eye blink (mostly accompanying fronted objects AbT); (iv) right and left body movements (which consistently mark CT). When AbT are realized as pronouns (instead of full DPs) are less marked, this asymmetry can be explained by pragmatic and prosodic reason; In line with other studies in spoken languages, the preliminary syntactic distribution of these topics is: ScTtime>ScTlocation>AbT>CT [IP]. This study is twofold: it increases our understanding of the complex phenomenon of topic marking in SLs and, from a linguistic perspective, it can serve as a litmus test for validating specific theories of the syntax of information structure.