Back to list

Detail of contribution

Auteur: Louise MYCOCK

Co-Auteur(s): John LOWE, University of Oxford, UK

Intonation-only marking of narrow Focus: a Lexical-Functional Grammar Analysis

Abstract/Résumé: Modularity is a key issue both for researchers seeking to understand and model grammatical architecture and for those exploring the cognitive and neural bases of language. We hold that an absolute modularity and strict separation of, e.g., phonology from syntax, semantics and pragmatics is a theoretical desideratum. Analysing interface phenomena such as intonation-only Focus marking, indicated by capital letters in (1), presents a challenge to a strictly modular approach because distinct components of linguistic structure must be permitted to interact but must be neither conflated nor assumed to be isomorphic. (1) Annie ADMIRES Norman. We extend a model of the syntax-prosody interface developed in the framework of Lexical-Functional Grammar (LFG) in Dalrymple & Mycock (2011), in which prosodic and other grammatical information interface only via the prosodic and syntactic units of the string and the interface structures associated with them. We include Information Structure category status (i.e. Focus) in those interface structures associated with prosodically prominent units in the p(rosodic)-string. A principle of interface harmony requires Focus to be a member of the interface structure associated with the corresponding unit in the s(yntactic)-string, as defined by the relation between phonological and syntactic units in the lexicon. We also require Focus to be the value of the associated semantic structure’s attribute Discourse Function, with the result that the relevant meaning constructor is a member of the Focus attribute’s value set at the level of information structure within LFG’s parallel architecture. This model both respects the principle of modularity and is fully capable of dealing with phenomena such as intonation-only Focus marking. While formalized in LFG, the issues involved are highly relevant to other syntactic frameworks, and the solution provided raises interesting possibilities for alternative theoretical approaches. REFERENCE Dalrymple, M. & L. Mycock (2011). ‘The Prosody-Semantics Interface’. Proceedings of LFG11. CSLI.