Merged and moved

Topics in Old and Middle French

  • Christine Meklenborg Nilsen University of Oslo
Keywords: topics, old French, middle French, Verb-second, V2, SI, resumptive adverbial, resumptive pronoun


Old and Middle French have two different kinds of topics -- one where the resumptive element is a pronoun, the other where it is the C-particle SI. This paper discusses the different properties of these two topicalization strategies based on quantitative data from the 12th to 15th centuries. During this time SI topicalization gets more restricted before SI is reanalysed as the demonstrative pronoun CE. It is argued that while PRON topicalization is based on Merge, SI topicalization is derived by movement. During the period investigated, Old French grammar shifts from V2 grammar to SVO, which also affects the possibilities with respect to topicalization. When movement into the Left Periphery no longer is obligatory for the finite verb, SI topicalization is no longer possible.