Project A4

1st Phase - Focus Evaluation, Anaphoricity, Discourse Coherence

This project targets the foundational semantic concepts underlying the information structure of a sentence, which are focus-background, topic-comment, and presupposition, and investigates their relation to text and discourse coherence. This will be done by the exemplary empirical investigation of semantic phenomena related to information structure and discourse.

Focus-background, topic-comment, and presupposition are believed to be operational at the semantics-pragmatics interface. This project concentrates on their semantic aspect and also their impact on logical form.

One important aim of the project is a better understanding of the mechanisms of focus evaluation in the context of sentence meaning, and the kind of context and disourse dependency that is relevant for focus evaluation. This especially includes the investigation of interactions between focus evaluation, discourse anaphoricity, and presupposition.

A related question concerns the place of semantic focus evaluation in the theory of grammar. How does focus evaluation relate to topic, discourse anaphoricity, and presupposition from a theoretical point of view?

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Principal Investigators

  • Prof. Dr. Sigrid Beck


June 2006 Lecture Kasimir, E.: Prosodic correlates of sub-clausal quotation. University of Potsdam.
May 2005 Lecture Kasimir, E.: Local and global exhaustive interpretation in German "not...but". Discourse Colloquium of the Institute for Linguistics, University of Potsdam.
December 2004 Lecture Kasimir, E.: Focus interpretation: Arguments against the question-answer test and the notion of givenness. Discourse Colloquium of the Institute for Linguistics, University of Potsdam.