Topicalization in Asian Englishes
Forms, Functions, and Frequencies of a Fronting Construction
Shortlisted for the 2020 ESSE Book Award in English Language and Linguistics
This monograph is the first comprehensive study of topicalization in Asian second-language varieties of English and provides an in-depth analysis of the forms, functions, and frequencies of topicalization in four Asian Englishes. Topicalization, that is, the sentence-initial placement of constituents other than the subject, has been found to occur frequently in the English spoken by many Asians, but so far the possible reasons for this have never been scrutinized. This book closes this research gap by taking into account the structures of the major contact languages, the roles of second-language acquisition and politeness as well as other factors in order to explain why topicalization is highly frequent in some varieties such as Indian English and much less frequent in other varieties such as Hong Kong English. In addition to exploring major and minor forces involved in explaining the frequency of topicalization, the forms and functions of the feature are assessed. Central questions addressed in this regard are the following: Which syntactic constituents tend to be topicalized the most and the least frequently? Which discourse effects does topicalization achieve? How can we approach topicalization methodologically? And, lastly, which influence do language processing and production have on topicalization?
Table of Contents
1. Introduction 2. Approaching topicalization 3. Topic-prominence in Asian contact languages 4. Development and variety status of four Asian Englishes 5. Corpus analysis: Data basis and methodology 6. Forms, functions, and frequencies of topicalization 7. Explaining topicalization frequencies 8. Conclusion and outlook
Sven Leuckert is a lecturer in the Institute of English and American Studies at the Technical University of Dresden, Germany.
"Leuckert's study on Topicalization in Asian Englishes is a corpus-based study offering new explanations for old assumptions. Leuckert provides a detailed analysis of forms, functions and frequencies of four Asian Englishes. In proposing parameters for topicalization, he critically addresses new lines of research and thus paves the way for discourse-pragmatic analyses of corpus data." — Ilka Mindt, Paderborn University, Germany
"A fascinating exploration of the complex and multidimensional sources of grammatical change in World Englishes. Leuckert expertly weaves together second language acquisition, cognition, frequency, discourse pragmatics, and identity for an exemplary comparative analysis of English topicalization in four different Asian contact settings. An indispensable resource for the study of how grammars are transformed by social contact." — Professor Devyani Sharma, Queen Mary University of London