LSA 129: Syntax and information structure at the interface

Maria Polinsky | session 1 | TuTh 8:30 – 10:15, 101 Moffitt Hall

Utterances in natural language are partitioned into topic and comment (focus). How, if at all, does this partition of information interface with the syntactic structure of a clause? This course addresses the interface between syntax and information structure looking at information structure from the vantage point of syntax. On this approach, the crucial goal is reductionist, seeking to understand what information structural effects play a role at the interface and are therefore necessary and sufficient. We will discuss and analyze judgment types (thetic, categorical) and major categories of information structure (topic, focus, d-linking) in relation to discourse reference and clause structure, and will survey the encoding of these notions across languages. We will evaluate major theories of the information structure and identify ensuing unresolved questions for syntactic theory.

Reading: Selected materials available online.

On reserve at Graduate Services, 208 Doe Library: Nomi Erteschik-Shir, Information structure: The syntax-discourse interface, Jeanette K. Gundel, The role of topic and comment in linguistic theory, Katalin Kiss, ed., Discourse configurational languages, Knud Lambrecht, Information structure and sentence form: Topic, focus, and the mental representations of discourse referents, Tanya Reinhart, Pragmatics and linguistics: an analysis of sentence topic, and Luigi Rizzi, ed., The structure of CP and IP: The cartography of syntactic structures.

Prerequisites: basic syntax.

Areas of linguistics: Syntax, semantics, and morphology

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