Information Structure in Cantonese

Scenes and Topic


  • Wilson Lui University of Oxford


information structure, topic, scene, Cantonese, topic-prominent language


This study presents an LFG information structure proposal that accounts for different types of Cantonese constructions involving one or multiple ‘topics’, a concept loosely defined in the literature. The proposal resolves the puzzle in understanding and categorising ‘topics’ by utilising the LFG framework which dissociates information structure roles from rigid syntactic positions. It also has implications for other topic-prominent languages which encode information structure through constituents with relatively flexible structural positions and word orders. This study proposes that Cantonese ‘topic’ constructions involve zero, one, or multiple SCENEs that provide the setting
of a proposition, and one and only one TOPIC that indicates what the sentence is about. SCENEs and TOPIC are both generated at the IP level.