Abstract

This article introduces a new way to explain how information structure is signaled prosodically in English. I claim that METRICAL STRUCTURE plays a central role (Ladd 2008, Truckenbrodt 1995). Information structure (defined as in Steedman 1991 and Vallduví & Vilkuna 1998) places strong constraints on the PROBABIILISTIC mapping of words onto metrical prosodic structure—that is, foci usually align with nuclear accents and theme/rheme units with prosodic phrases, and themes are less metrically prominent than rhemes. It is shown that focus position, scope, and pragmatic interpretation are then derived by manipulating EXPECTED PROMINENCE within metrical structure. Broadly, the more prominent a word than expected, the more likely a contrastive reading; the less prominent, the more likely a givenness reading. Both constructed and naturally occurring examples from the Switchboard corpus are used.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 1-42
Launched on MUSE
2010-03-29
Open Access
No
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