Deconstructing Information Structure
Angelika Kratzer, Elisabeth Selkirk
November 2020

The paper argues that a core part of what is traditionally referred to as ‘information structure’ can be deconstructed into genuine morphosyntactic features that are visible to syntactic operations, contribute to discourse-related expressive meanings, and just happen to be spelled out prosodically in Standard American and British English. We motivate two features, [FoC] and [G], and we track the fate of those features at and beyond the syntax-semantics and the syntax-phonology interfaces. [FoC] and [G] are responsible for two distinct obligatory strategies for establishing discourse coherence. A [G]-marked constituent signals a match with a discourse referent, whereas a [FoC]-marked constituent invokes alternatives and thereby signals a contrast. In Standard American and British English [FoC] aims for highest prosodic prominence in the intonational phrase, whereas [G] lacks phrase-level prosodic properties. There is no grammatical marking of newness: The apparent prosodic effects of newness are the result of default prosody.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004201
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Please cite the final 2020 version published in Glossa. The last version here is the final preprint version. Version 2 was rejected by Language flat out in the first round without invitation for resubmission.
keywords: information structure, focus, contrast, givenness, prosody, syntax-semantics interface, syntax-phonology interface, morphosyntactic features, alternatives semantics, prosodic structure, match constraints
previous versions: v11 [August 2020]
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v9 [March 2020]
v8 [February 2020]
v7 [December 2019]
v6 [November 2019]
v5 [April 2019]
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v3 [January 2019]
v2 [September 2018]
v1 [September 2018]
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