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The 8th volume of the working paper series Interdisciplinary Studies on Information Structure (ISIS) of the SFB 632 contains a collection of eight papers contributed by guest authors and SFB-members.
The first paper on “Biased Questions” is an invited contribution by Nicholas Asher (CNRS, Laboratoire IRIT) & Brian Reese (University of Texas at Austin). Surveying English tag questions, negative polar questions, and what they term “focus” questions, they investigate the effects of prosody on discourse function and discourse structure and analyze the interaction between prosody and discourse in SDRT (Segmented Discourse Representation Theory).
Stefan Hinterwimmer (A2) explores the interpretation of singular definites and universally quantified DPs in adverbially quantified English sentences. He suggests that the availability of a co-varying interpretation is more constrained in the case of universally quantified DPs than in the case of singular definites, because different from universally quantified DPs, co-varying definites are inherently focus-marked.
The existence of striking similarities between topic/comment structure and bimanual coordination is pointed out and investigated by Manfred Krifka (A2). Showing how principles of bimanual coordination influence the expression of topic/comment structure beyond spoken language, he suggests that bimanual coordination might have been a preadaptation of the development of Information Structure in human communication.
Among the different ways of expressing focus in Foodo, an underdescribed African Guang language of the Kwa family, the marked focus constructions are the central topic of the paper by Ines Fiedler (B1 & D2). Exploring the morphosyntactic facilities that Foodo has for focalization, she suggests that the two focus markers N and n? have developed out of a homophone conjunction.
Focus marking in another scarcely documented African tone language, the Gur language Konkomba, is treated by Anne Schwarz (B1 & D2). Comparing the two alleged focus markers lé and lá of the language, she argues that lé is better interpreted as a syntactic device rather than as a focus marker and shows that this analysis is corroborated by parallels in related languages.
The reflexes of Information Structure in four different European languages (French, German, Greek and Hungarian) are compared and validated by Sam Hellmuth & Stavros Skopeteas (D2). The production data was collected with selected materials of the Questionnaire on Information Structure (QUIS) developed at the SFB. The results not only allow for an evaluation of the current elicitation paradigms, but also help to identify potentially fruitful venues of future research.
Frank Kügler, Stavros Skopeteas (D2) & Elisabeth Verhoeven (University of Bremen) give an account of the encoding of Information Structure in Yucatec Maya, a Mayan tone language spoken on the Yucatecan peninsula in Mexico. The results of a production experiment lead them to the conclusion that focus is mainly expressed by syntax in this language.
Stefanie Jannedy (D3) undertakes an instrumental investigation on the expressions and interpretation of focus in Vietnamese, a language of the Mon-Khmer family contrasting six lexical tones. The data strongly suggests that focus in Vietnamese is exclusively marked by prosody (intonational emphasis expressed via duration, f0 and amplitude) and that different focus conditions can reliably be recovered.
This volume offers insights into current work conducted at the SFB 632, comprising empirical and theoretical aspects of Information Structure in a multitude of languages. Several of the papers mine field work data collected during the first phase of the SFB and explore the expression of Information Structure in tone and non-tone languages from various regions of the world.
Alle lieferbaren Hefte: Interdisciplinary studies on information structure