Information Structure and Sentence Form: Topic, Focus, and the Mental Representations of Discourse Referents
Why do speakers of all languages use different grammatical structures under different communicative circumstances to express the same idea? In this comprehensive study, Professor Lambrecht explores the relationship between the structure of sentences and the linguistic and extra-linguistic contexts in which they are used. His analysis is based on the observation that the structure of a sentence reflects a speaker's assumptions about the hearer's state of knowledge and consciousness at the time of the utterance. This relationship between speaker assumptions and formal sentence structure is governed by rules and conventions of grammar, in a component called "information structure." Four independent but interrelated categories are analyzed: presupposition and assertion, identifiability and activation, topic, and focus. Lambrecht reveals that each category correlates directly with structural properties of the sentence.
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The mental representations of discourse referents
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accessible active addressee already analysis answer appear argument assertion assumed assumption called Chapter clause coding cognitive communicative concerning Consider constituent construction containing context contrast correlation definite denotatum designated determined difference discourse discussion distinction element English entity established evoked example existence explained fact focus focus domain formal French function given grammatical hearer identifiable important inactive indefinite indicates individual information structure interpretation involving Italian John kind knowledge Lambrecht languages lexical linguistic marked meaning mentioned mind natural necessarily necessary Notice notion noun phrase object observation particular position possible pragmatic pragmatically presupposed predicate present presupposition principle prominence pronominal pronoun properties proposition prosodic question reading referent relation relationship relative relevant reply representation respect role rule Section semantic sense sentence similar situation speaker status syntactic syntax thetic topic expression topic referent topic-comment unaccented unmarked utterance verb