Polarity focus as focus
Daniel Goodhue
December 2021

***In press in Journal of Semantics*** I develop a general theory of focus and givenness that can account for truly contrastive focus, and for polarity focus, including data that are sometimes set apart under the label "verum focus". I show that polarity focus creates challenges for classic theories of focus (e.g. Rooth 1992, a.o.) that can be dealt with by requiring that all focus marking is truly contrastive, and that givenness deaccenting imposes its own distinct requirement on prominence shifts. To enforce true contrast, I employ innocent exclusion (Fox, 2007). A key, novel feature of my account is that focal targets are split into two kinds, those that are contextually supported and those that are constructed ad hoc, and that the presence of a contextually supported target can block the ability to construct an ad hoc target. This enables a novel explanation of the data motivating true contrast, and enables polarity focus to be brought into the fold of a unified and truly contrastive theory of focus. I then compare the account to theories of verum focus that make use of non-focus-based VERUM operators, and make the argument that the focus account is more parsimonious and has better empirical coverage.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004205
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in:
keywords: focus, polarity focus, maximize presupposition, verum focus, contrastive focus, answer focus, givenness, semantics, pragmatics, prosody
previous versions: v4 [June 2021]
v3 [March 2021]
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v1 [September 2018]
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