Understanding Word Order in the Left Periphery

Logo by A. Lunazzi

The Left Periphery is that portion of a sentence which contains all the linguistic expressions that precede the subject, such as the interrogative operator “who” in “who did you meet?”, the topic “John” in “John, they fired him” and the contrastive focus “JOHN” in “JOHN, they fired!”.  

Since Rizzi’s (1997) seminal research, most linguists maintain that these expressions are arranged according to a fixed order which is common to all languages. We have no proper understanding, however, of why the order is the one observed and not a different one. We also have trouble accounting for why certain languages vary in how they order specific left-peripheral expressions.

Starting January 2015, the project DECODE aims to provide an answer to these questions. The specific focus of inquiry will be the Romance, Slavic and Germanic Languages. 

Published June 17, 2015 4:23 PM - Last modified June 17, 2015 4:32 PM