A5: "Information Structure: Intonation and Meaning" (Katharina Hartmann)

Mon 9.15-10.45, Tue 11.15-12.45, Wed 14.15-15.45, Thu 16.15-17.45
Room: 1.13


Contents of the course: This course looks at theories investigating the interaction between prosodic structure and interpretation in discourse. The aim of these lectures is to sharpen the student’s understanding of requirements ruling the adequacy of discourse-embedded sentence structures. Subject to cross-linguistic variation, the syntactic and prosodic structure of a clause is adjusted as a function of the preceding (and following) context. Given this, many interesting research questions arise: How do prosody and meaning correlate? Do amendments of prosodic structure always yield different meanings? Does the expression of these meanings follow universal rules? What are the principles that govern accent placement? What is the contribution of the syntactic component? Is the position of a pitch accent related to a specific syntactic position? This course attempts to give answers to these questions.

Structure of the course: The eight lectures will be structured as follows: Lecture 1 starts with a discussion of pitch accents in default intonation. Looking at a selected set of languages we analyze prima facie rules of nuclear pitch accent placement. Default intonation will be compared with prosodic structure under different focus conditions. Lecture 2 presents the semantic and prosodic differences between focus and givenness and discusses contexts which license these oppositional information structural notions. It discusses focus sizes and the concept of focus projection and introduces focus features. Lecture 3 discusses theories assuming focus and givenness features in syntactic representations. It addresses the task of such features in determining the size of a focus, correct nuclear pitch accent placement, and the possibility of given elements within focus domains. Lecture 4 starts with a discussion of certain instances of focus projection which turn out to be problematic for an F-feature based focus theory. It considers alternative theories for the representation of focus and givenness that dispense with focus features altogether. Lecture 5 investigates the interaction between information structure and prosodic structure more closely addressing the prosodic structure of focus and givenness, and second occurrence focus. Lecture 6 analyzes prosodic focus marking in a selected set of Asian and African tone languages. Presuming that lexical tone precludes information-structural contour tones, different intonational cues for marking focus in tone languages will be discussed. Lecture 7 establishes a connection between syntax and prosody in Italian, Spanish and Hungarian and discusses evidence for prosodically driven focus movement. Lecture 8 takes a more general look at overt and covert focus movement and other syntactic focus constructions and considers the semantic impact of each of them.

Course requirements: The students will be requested to do some daily reading and work on problem sets relating and applying the theoretical issues discussed in the course to empirical data and research.

Lecturer: Katharina Hartmann, Universität Frankfurt