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February 16 , 2010

The Meaning of Topic and Focus

The 59th Street Bridge Accent


This study provides an illuminating and ground-breaking account of the complex interaction of intonational phenomena, semantics and pragmatics. Based on examples from German and English, and centred on an analysis of the fall-rise intonation contour, a semantic interpretation for two different pitch accents - Focus and Topic - is developed. The cross-sentence, as well as the sentence internal semantic effects of these accents, follow from the given treatment. The account is based on Montogovian possible world semantics and Chomskian generative syntax.

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