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date: 23 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews how the two important notions of information structure—topic and focus—are encoded in Chinese. It first describes the properties of syntactic constructions (e.g. shi/shi . . . de, lian–dou/ye) and semantic particles (e.g. cai, jiu, dou, and zhi) for focus marking. It then discusses how Chinese, a topic-prominent language, conveys topical information via different structures such as base-generated topics, dangling topics, and moved topics. Finally, it provides an overview of how prosodic structure and prominence cues (e.g. pitch register raising, pitch range expansion, and lengthening) complement and enhance focus and topic marking in a variety of Chinese dialects, and how such prosodic reflexes of information structure are constrained by their characteristic sound structures. Lacunae for the studies of focus and topic in Chinese are also identified as important questions for future research.

Keywords: information structure, topic, focus, semantic particles, dangling topics, prosodic structure, prominence cues, shi and shi . . . de constructions, lian . . . dou/ye constructions

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