A primitive mapping of the criterial field of focus


  • Caterina Bonan University of Cambridge


syntactic cartography, focus, wh-movement, interrogatives, parameters


This contribution proposes a preliminary reassessment of the cartography of a number of syntactic phenomena that fall under the broad label of ‘focus’. The main aim of this work is to encourage a discussion and amendment of the cartography of focus projections based on a cross-linguistic comparison of the movement properties of interrogative wh-elements and of prosodically-marked nominal focalisations. Additionally, a new understanding of the syntactic properties of wh-movement and focus will be proposed which, based on Rizzi’s (2017) notions of ‘movement’ and ‘Spell-Out’ parameters, reduces the observed crosslinguistic variations to the combination of simple binary choices. I will claim that the notion of focus projection is semantically and empirically insufficient to account for the wide array of focal phenomena attested cross-linguistically while abiding by the ‘One feature – One head’ rule and ‘Uniqueness of focus’ principle: criterial fields are needed instead.


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Bonan, C. (2022). A primitive mapping of the criterial field of focus. Caderno De Squibs: Temas Em Estudos Formais Da Linguagem, 7(1), 102–122. Recuperado de https://periodicos.unb.br/index.php/cs/article/view/40559