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The purpose of Haegeman's book (2012) is the investigation of argument fronting as the instance of main clause phenomena (MCP). The study is focused on the kind of environment where MCP are banned. The author uses the core empirical observation of the syntactic patterns as being usually restricted to main clauses, as well as the well-established subset of embedded clauses. These are typically fronting operations. The book examines the degree of feasibility and attractiveness of a syntactic account understood as licensing through force. Haegeman argues that there are cases challenging such an account and making it redundant. “Preface” outlines the structure of the book, and explains how its main themes are to be developed through various sections.
The first three chapters provide the background to the issues. Chapters 2 and 3 study the English articulated left periphery, introducing the notion of double asymmetry, which is the author's key argument. Haegeman also proposes that it is locality conditions on movement responsible for many differences between Romance and English argument fronting in terms of the distribution of clitic left dislocation. They correlate with the left-peripheral argument's syntactic properties. To this end, Chapter 3 introduces a detailed feature-based approach. Chapters 4 and 5 are central components in the book's structure. They discuss the internal syntax of the adverbial clauses, including the problem of incompatibility of the said clauses with MCP. Chapter 6 suggests questions remaining for a further research. It is designed as a survey of finite “that” clauses resisting MCP that are, in certain cases, characterized by the double asymmetry. The book is resolutely comparative, despite the fact that most of its empirical data is in English. In addition, the author aims to specifically determine the extent to which the limited distribution of argument fronting can account for other adverbial clauses' properties that are not typically perceived as MCP.
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Chapter 1 titled “Adverbial Clauses, Main Clause Phenomena, and the Composition of the Left Periphery” provides the overall background to the book’s main themes. It consists of six subsections. First of all, the author assesses the development of clause structure in terms of its generative conception. The latter is referenced to the left periphery of clause structure, i.e. the left are of the canonical subject position. The major part of the chapter focuses on the said periphery of the English clause, providing, nevertheless, comparative argumentation. Haegeman argues about the extent to which the governing information structure can be used as a sole basis for the disposal of the English left periphery constituents. Furthermore, the chapter asserts that the topic projection with predominantly focus projection, or a "lower topic", does not have to be necessarily excluded from the mentioned periphery.
The arguments suggest the decomposition or split of the clauses phenomena projection into an improved structure. This trend of replacing earlier clause structure proposals by more articulated models culminates in Rizzi's template as a basis of the recent achievements of cartographic tradition. This template allows for a fronted topicalized argument to the right of the focused constituents, i.e. a lower topic, to have a linear sequence focus. This never arises in English. To this end, Haegeman applies this template to English to prove that the negative inversion pattern is accommodated through the means of the richer template. The fact that Rizzi's template's lower topic position is never filled in English means that it must be reduced to such a format, in which focalized constituents are preceded by topicalized ones. Such a reduction operation complies with the properties of information structure, which may, in fact, serve as a basis for the template. Moreover, the author evaluates two specific arguments presented against reduced template. The first one is related to the fact that, in principle, the lower topic position must be available. Secondly, in many cases, there is no need to independently state the absence of the lower topic due to the dependence between the low topic in English and local movement conditions. The author notes that some of the made statements are to be clarified in the third chapter.
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