Date of Award

June 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics


Jaklin Kornfilt


information structure, scrambling, turkish

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


This thesis focuses on scrambling in Turkish by discussing that word order deviations are driven by discourse-pragmatic factors. It gives a detailed description and analysis of Information Structure in the language through three main partitions: topic, focus and tail. It first presents potential morpho-semantic effects on the distribution of these partitions. Accordingly, specificity and definiteness categories may restrict topicalization possibilities, but it does not provide a conclusive account of all instances. Compared to topic, focus and tail are not constrained by any morphological and semantic regularities. However, tail must be referentially anchored in discourse. Then, the phonological features of the partitions are presented. It is argued that the primary prosodic prominence falls on focus; thus, it is indicated by a tonal accent. Topic is expressed by a rising boundary tone; it is associated with secondary prosodic prominence. Tail is prosodically non-prominent in Turkish. As such, it is always realized with de-accentuation.

In essence, the study analyzes the scrambling phenomenon from a syntactic standpoint. It shows that word order variation is motivated by discourse-configurational features. The topic feature on C is accompanied by an empty topic operator in Spec, CP which triggers a topicalized constituent to raise to the specifier of a Topic Phrase at the left periphery of a sentence. The occurrence of multiple topics, on the other hand, is resolved through an analysis of multiple specifiers of a single Topic head. In such constructions, the number of operators is equated with the number of topics so that each topic is attracted by its own operator. On the other hand, focus and tail are not derived by phrase-level projections. It is proposed that focus does not drive syntactic movement, rather it is licensed by the Agree operation between the goal (the C head) and a probe with matching features. Lastly, this study explains potential word order alternations in Turkish through the adjunction operation. It shows that focus initiates the adjunction of tail elements to alternative positions in order to secure its syntactic and prosodic prominence in the sentence.


Open Access



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