Publication Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Linguistics and Language Development


construction, extraction, isolation, topicalization


The Left-Isolation (LI) construction is a clausal construction that licenses long-distance dependencies and is responsible for a noun phrase object, indirect object or object of a preposition appearing before the subject of a sentence instead of in its canonical position after the verb. It is used in many different types of sentences, all of which have the pragmatics of drawing attention to the left-isolated element. This thesis examines the argument structure, valence, and information structure of the construction as well as some of the different types of sentences that inherit this construction. The types of participant roles as well as the types of verbs that can occur in a sentence that involves the Left-Isolation construction are explored. As an abstract construction, the Left-Isolation construction is inherited by many other constructions including the topicalization construction, main clause non-subject questions, complement clauses, relative clauses, caused motion and resultative constructions, conditionals, and coordinate clauses, all of which are examined here. Some constructions inherit the Left-Isolation construction freely while others have rules as to when it may be inherited. It is up to the speaker and listener to choose when the LI construction is pragmatically appropriate and in which cases it is grammatical.