An OT Approach on the Word Order of Hakka Focus and Topic Constructions

Yu-Ching Tseng


This paper adopts an Optimality Theoretic approach to analyze the basic word orders of Hakka involving the subject, verb, object, and additional PPs. As argued in this paper, in Hakka the sentence-initial constituent should be identified as the topic, and the second preverbal position is associated with the focus position. Here a set of constraint ranking consisting of three generalized alignment constraints is proposed, which successfully accounts for the association of the word order variants with their pragmatic functions. This paper also discusses VP constructions that involve a complement or an adjunctive PP. While the positioning of adjunct PPs follows the general word order predictions; contrastively, it is specifically argued that a complement PP is incompatible with extraposition; in other words, a complement PP is never topicalized or focalized in sentences. With a separate OT analysis being applied on the pragmatic level, this paper uses a syntactic restriction against preverbal complement PPs to explain this phenomenon in Hakka. 

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International Journal of Linguistics  ISSN 1948-5425  Email:

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