A recipient-based study of the discourse functions of marked topic constructions

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Researchers have assumed that marked topic constructions have an effect on the structuring of discourse. So far, this effect has only been surmised by research on speakers' presumed intentions. This study offers - for the first time - an empirical recipient-based perspective, using psycholinguistic laboratory procedures, applied to authentic speech. Three marked topic constructions (Left-Dislocation, Object Fronting, and Subject Marking) have been compared to the unmarked control SVO sentence. Significant results have been obtained, showing that certain discursive functions (in the realms of discourse management and discourse content), earlier identified as speakers' intentions, indeed have an observable effect on the listeners. The addition of an empirical dimension has yielded results which are more comprehensive, more robust and more refined than the results previously obtained through use of qualitative methods alone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-166
Number of pages13
JournalLanguage Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Left-dislocation
  • Marked topic
  • Speech perception
  • Subject marking
  • Topicalization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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