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Focus Triggers and Focus Types from a Corpus Perspective

Dialogue & Discourse
Publication Date
  • Linguistics


The article discusses several issues relevant for the annotation of written and spoken corpus data with information structure. We discuss ways to identify focus top-down (via questions under discussion) or bottom-up (starting from pitch accents). We introduce a two-dimensional labelling scheme for information status and propose a way to distinguish between contrastive and non-contrastive information. Moreover, we take side in a current debate, claiming that focus is triggered by two sources: newness and elicited alternatives (contrast). This may lead to a high number of semantic-pragmatic foci in a single sentence. In each prosodic phrase there can be one primary focus (marked by a nuclear pitch accent) and several secondary foci (marked by weaker prosodic prominence). Second occurrence focus is one instance of secondary focus.

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