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  • Cited by 11
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    This chapter has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Vander Klok, Jozina Goad, Heather and Wagner, Michael 2018. Prosodic focus in English vs. French: A scope account. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics, Vol. 3, Issue. 1, p. 71.

    Hamlaoui, Fatima Żygis, Marzena Engelmann, Jonas and Wagner, Michael 2018. Acoustic Correlates of Focus Marking in Czech and Polish. Language and Speech, p. 002383091877353.

    Surányi, Balázs and Madarász, Levente 2018. Linguistic and Cognitive Aspects of Quantification. Vol. 47, Issue. , p. 141.

    Gotzner, Nicole 2017. Alternative Sets in Language Processing. p. 139.

    Krivokapić, Jelena Tiede, Mark K. and Tyrone, Martha E. 2017. A Kinematic Study of Prosodic Structure in Articulatory and Manual Gestures: Results from a Novel Method of Data Collection. Laboratory Phonology, Vol. 8, Issue. 1,

    Gotzner, Nicole 2017. Alternative Sets in Language Processing. p. 103.

    Truckenbrodt, Hubert 2016. Inner-sentential Propositional Proforms. Vol. 232, Issue. , p. 105.

    Stevens, Jon Scott 2016. Focus games. Linguistics and Philosophy, Vol. 39, Issue. 5, p. 395.

    Katzir, Roni 2014. Pragmatics, Semantics and the Case of Scalar Implicatures. p. 40.

    Katzir, Roni 2013. A note on contrast. Natural Language Semantics, Vol. 21, Issue. 4, p. 333.

    Truckenbrodt, Hubert 2013. An analysis of prosodic F-effects in interrogatives: Prosody, syntax and semantics. Lingua, Vol. 124, Issue. , p. 131.

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  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: August 2012

6 - Focus and givenness: a unified approach

from Part I - The architecture of grammar and the primitives of information structure
Summary

Three phenomena, or two, or one?

The distribution of accents in a sentence in English is affected by context in a systematic way. This chapter looks at three particular kinds of such prosodic effects – those of question–answer congruence, contrast, and givenness – and presents evidence – some new, some already presented in Wagner (2005, 2006b) – that all three should be treated as reflexes of the same underlying phenomenon.

For the purposes of this chapter, I will only consider the location of the last accent in a sentence (marked in small caps), which can be followed by unaccented material or material that is at least heavily pitch-reduced (marked by underlining). My examples will not indicate whether or where there are any preceding accents in the sentence. This simplification of the data is not meant to imply that pre-final accents are not relevant or altogether absent. Rather, it is motivated by the observation that when narrow focus has the effect that the location of the final prominence in an utterance is shifted toward an earlier word, this leads to a much clearer perceptual effect than when it does not (Breen et al. 2010, and references therein), and hence intuitions are clearer. This privileged role of the last accent may simply be due to the fact that any shift in its location is perceptually much more salient, or it may point to a deeper difference in the semantic/pragmatic import of final and pre-final accents – a question that this chapter will not address (see Büring, chapter 2 of this volume, for a relevant discussion of pre-nuclear accents).

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Contrasts and Positions in Information Structure
  • Online ISBN: 9780511740084
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511740084
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