I am currently studying the structural placement of focus particles, in particular sentential ‘only’ words in Mandarin Chinese and Vietnamese. I observe that in languages that allow sentential focus particles at different attachment heights on the clausal spine, there is a generalization that a focus particle must be as low as possible while c-commanding its associate, within a given phase. Jacobs (1983) and Büring & Hartmann (2001) describe the distribution of German focus adverbs in similar terms, but its cross-linguistic generality has not been explored and the nature of this “as low as possible” description has not been adequately studied. The sensitivity of this behavior to phase boundaries forms a new argument for the theory of phase-based, cyclic structure-building.
“Vietnamese focus particles and derivation by phase.”
Journal of East Asian Linguistics.
“Focus and minimality.”
Presented at Macquarie University.
“In defense of Closeness: focus-sensitive adverb placement in Vietnamese and Mandarin Chinese.”
Manuscript, McGill University.
“Minimality and focus-sensitive adverb placement.”
Proceedings of NELS 45, pages 193–202.
“Focus adverbs at the vP and higher edges.”
Presented (most recently) at the University of Washington.