Sujeewa Hettiarachchi presented a study entitled "The Syntax of Sinhala Object Scrambling" at Formal Approaches to South Asian Languages (FASAL 4) at Rutgers, New Jersey on March 30th, 2014.
This study provides a systematic analysis of so-called object scrambling in Sinhala OSV word order, which has not received any formal treatment in generative syntax. A goal is to analyze Sinhala and determine its place in the typology of human languages as characterized by a Minimalist theory of principles and parameters. Using diagnostics standard in scrambling research, including (radical) reconstruction, binding relations, Weak Crossover (WCO) effects, scopal ambiguity and parasitic gaps (Boškovic, 2004; Dayal, 1994; Karimi, 2005; Mahajan, 1990; Miyagawa, 2006 & 2009 and Neeleman & Reinhart, 1998; Saito, 2004 & 2006), I argue that: (i) the OSV word order in Sinhala is derived through syntactic movement (contra Boškovic, 2004; Boškovic & Takahashi, 1998 for Japanese) (ii) it is uniformly an A-bar movement operation (contra Mahajan, 1990; Miyagawa, 2009) and (iii) the movement of the object results in clear semantic effects as the fronted object is obligatorily associated with a topic or focus interpretation (contra Boškovic, 2004; Boškovic & Takahashi, 1998; Saito, 1985 & 2006). Based on these semantic/syntactic properties, the study concludes that topic/focus driven A-bar movement (Rizzi, 1997 & 2003) can readily account for the OSV word order in Sinhala without appealing to ‘scrambling,’ a cross-linguistic phenomenon that has remained problematic for different theoretical approaches.