Description - The Meaning of Topic and Focus by Daniel Buring
Daniel Buering's study provides an illuminating and ground-breaking account of the complex interaction of intonational phenomen, semantics and pragmatics. Based on examples from German and English, and centred on an analysis of the fall-rise intonation contour, a semantic interpretation for two different pitch accents - Focus and Topic - is developed. The cross-sentence, as well as the sentence internal semantic effects of these accents, follow from the given treatment. The account is based on Montagovian possible world semantics and Chomskian generative syntax. The theory, based on that of Rooth, allows for a maximally tripartite information structure, consisting of (an optional) Sentence-Topic, Background and Focus. Both Focus and Sentence-Topic correspond to distinct tone sequences in the sense of Pierrehumbert's decompositional theory of pitch accents. Rooth's treatment of Focus is adopted and supplemented with a theory of Sentence-Topic interpretation, which consists of topic effect on the appriopriateness conditions and topic implicatures.
Among the phenomena discussed are: * question-answer congruence * contrastive topics * topic Implicatures * focus affected readings of adnominal quantifiers * scope ambiguity resolution involving QNPs * negation and adverbial clauses.
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