Where's the topic in Zulu?

Lisa Lai-Shen Cheng 1  and Laura J. Downing 2
  • 1 Leiden University. L.L.Cheng@let.leidenuniv.nl
  • 2 Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Berlin. downing@zas.gwz-berlin.de


This article provides a detailed investigation of the prosody and syntax of dislocation in Durban Zulu, an Nguni Bantu language spoken in South Africa. With focus elements obligatorily appearing in an immediately after the verb position, non-focused elements within a verb phrase have to be right- or left-dislocated. We discuss the asymmetries between right- and left-dislocation, showing that only left-dislocated elements can be topics. We argue that aside from a pre-subject Topic position, there is also a Topic position between the subject and the verb phrase. The prosodic phrasing cues in Zulu show that both the CP and the vP phases play a crucial role in determining the alignment with Intonational Phrases.

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The Linguistic Review publishes high-quality papers in syntax, semantics, phonology and morphology within a framework of Generative Grammar and related disciplines, as well as critical discussions of theoretical linguistics as a branch of cognitive psychology. The journal welcomes reviews of important new monographs in these areas, dissertation abstracts and letters to the editor.