Can a topic ever correspond to a focus?

In the sentence below, the left dislocated topic is the antecedent of the resumptive pronoun she, but she is in focus.

'Mary, SHE ate my cake!'

Context: I know a person named Mary.
         I have recently discovered that the cake I was saving for dessert is missing.
         The only person who was at home was Mary.

In Malay, the resumptive pronoun may clearly be marked by focus marker lah and be clefted, as shown below:

Mary, dia-lah  yang makan kek  saya!
M.    3.SG-FOC C    eat   cake 1.SG
'Mary, it was she who ate my cake.'

This goes against my understanding of information structure. Although information-structural notions are at times very slippery, topic and focus are clearly 2 notions that are exact opposites. There's this quote, “a category in left dislocation cannot be interpreted as a focus” (Adriaan Neeleman & Van de Koot, 2016), but it doesn't specify if a resumptive pronoun whose antecedent is the dislocated constituent could be interpreted as a focus.

If the examples provided truly do show the 2 notions corresponding to each other, how would one explain it?

  • It depends on your tests for "topic" and "focus". Which depend on how you define them, and how you test for them. Since there are no standard definitions of them (only theory-internal ones), that depends on which theory you are presupposing. The question doesn't make sense in some theories, and has other issues in others.
    – jlawler
    Jul 9 '21 at 20:23

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