School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Linguistics Guest Speaker Seminar | Angelika Kratzer (UMass-Amherst)

28 November 2018

Time: 4:30 - 6:00pm
Venue: ArtsTwo 2.17

Deconstructing Information Structure (Angelika Kratzer and Lisa Selkirk)

We argue that the core of what is traditionally referred to as ‘Information Structure’ can be deconstructed into bona fide morphosyntactic features that have familiar types of meanings and just happen to be spelled out prosodically, rather than segmentally or tonally, in Standard American and British English. Setting aside topicality, we discuss two such features, [FoC] and [G]. [FoC] highlights contrasts and, in Standard American and British English, aims for highest prominence in a sentence. [G] is sensitive to discourse givenness and, in Standard American and British English, resists (phrase-level) prominence. There is no representation of newness. Apart from the idiosyncratic properties of [FoC] and [G], which guide their syntactic distribution, felicitous use, and phonological spellout, no special grammatical mechanisms or architectures have to be assumed to account for the many phonological, syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic manifestations of Information Structure notions related to givenness and focus.