Edited by Alessandra Barotto and Simone Mattiola
[Studies in Language Companion Series 227] 2023
► pp. 269–293
Differential indexing has often been associated with features such as animacy and identifiability, but also with the discourse categories topic and focus. This study presents a cross-linguistic survey of differential indexing phenomena which have been ascribed to topicality or focus, showing that although there are similarities with regard to the discourse-structural effects that the addition or omission of indexes might have in different languages, differential indexing has language-specific, often compositional causes and effects. These are demonstrated by two case studies, on Ruuli (Bantu) and Maltese (Semitic). In both languages, differential indexing of the P argument could be ascribed to the topicality of the referent, but it will be shown that this would not do justice to the multifactorial reality of the phenomenon, as in both languages, differential indexing is triggered by a complex interplay of different factors.