author={Roger Schwarzschild},
  journal={Natural Language Semantics},
This paper strives to characterize the relation between accent placement and discourse in terms of independent constraints operating at the interface between syntax and interpretation. The Givenness Constraint requires un-F-marked constituents to be given. Key here is our definition of givenness, which synthesizes insights from the literature on the semantics of focus with older views on information structure. AvoidF requires speakers to economize on F-marking. A third constraint requires a… 

Evidence for Phonological Constraints on Nuclear Accent Placement

The distribution of pitch accents in speech is a topic of long-standing importance because it reflects the relationships amongst different levels of representation; phonology, syntax, semantics, and

Focus, phrase length, and the distribution of phrase-initial rises in French

The findings of this study represent the first quantitative assessment of focus realization in French in a non-corrective context, and establish a previously undocumented link between LHi and discourse-level meaning.

The role of givenness, presupposition, and prosody in Czech word order: An experimental study

It is argued that the syntactic movement of given elements results from the need to avoid the rightmost position where sentence stress falls, and not from a syntactic ordering requirement, and the results reveal an interaction between presupposition and word order, in the sense of an acceptability penalty for utterances in which non-presupposed expressions precede presupposed ones.

Bengali Intonation Revisited: An Optimality Theoretic Analysis in which FOCUS Stress Prominence Drives FOCUS Phrasing

Focus Prominence theory provides an insightful account of the array of phonological properties that are associated with focus crosslinguistically, and at the same time explains the observed generalizations about focus projection and the distribution of focus-related prominence within the sentence.


Patterns of accent placement show cross-linguistic variation. In this thesis I will present a formal account of this variation within an Optimality Theoretic (OT) framework. Following a suggestion in

Evidential Scale

Some studies have assumed that prosodic patterns of sentences are exclusively determined by the rules of accented expressions, with deaccenting of non-focused elements playing little or no role [1,

Prosody, focus, and ellipsis in Irish

Abstract:This article analyzes a certain class of misalignments found in contemporary Irish in the relation between syntactic and phonological representations. The mismatches analyzed turn on the

Givenness and the difference between wh-fronted and wh-in-situ questions in Spanish

  • M. Biezma
  • Philosophy
    Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory
  • 2018
In the last fifteen years, the literature on wh-questions has tried to understand speakers’ intuitions regarding the meaning differences between wh-in-situ (WIQs) and wh-fronted (WFQs) questions. The

Factors influencing the acceptability of object fronting in German

Support for the view that informal register facilitates object fronting is found, suggesting that both types of models capture an empirically valid generalization and can be seen as complementing each other rather than competing with each other.



Deaccentuation of Words Representing ‘Given’ Information: Effects of Persistence of Grammatical Function and Surface Position

The absence of intonational prominence on a referring expression (deaccentuation) is commonly explained as a consequence of the GIVENness of the discourse entity referred to - the fact that it

The Meaning of Intonational Contours in the Interpretation of Discourse

This paper proposes that a speaker chooses a particular tune to convey a particular relationship between an utterance, currently perceived beliefs of a hearer or hearers, and anticipated contributions of subsequent utterances, and claims that these relationships are compositionalcomposed from the pitch aumts, phrase QCcmts, and bowndary tones that make up tunes.

Accents, focus distribution, and the perceived distribution of given and new information: An experiment.

Results showed that the most preferred or acceptable distributions of new and given information closely match the distributions of plus and minus focus, and it was found that new information can hardly ever acceptably be associated withminus focus, but given information can rather often, although not always, acceptably been associated with plus focus.

Focus in Generative Grammar

The main thesis is that focus has a uniform grammatical identification only as a syntactic element with – in English at least – a certain systematic phonological interpretation and – presumably universally – a range of semantic interpretations.

Phonology and Syntax: The Relation between Sound and Structure

A fundamentally new approach to the theory of phonology and its relation to syntax is developed in this book, which is the first to address the question of the relation between syntax and phonology

Focus, mode and the nucleus

This article argues for the hypothesis that the location of the nucleus of the intonation contour is rule-governed. The term ‘nucleus’ is taken to refer to what has elsewhere been discussed as the

Intonation and the assessment of information1

1. It is now a commonplace that one of the functions of intonation in English is to divide a discourse into ‘units of information’ and to structure these units by singling out within each one a focal

Aspects of English Sentence Stress

Aspects of English Sentence Stress is written within the conceptual framework of generative-transformational grammar. However, it is atheoretical in the sense that the proposals made cannot be

Semantic Interpretation in Generative Grammar

This book investigates a wide variety of semantic rules, stating them in considerable detail and extensively treating their consequences for the syntactic component of the grammar, and proposes radically new approaches to the so-called Crossover Principle, the control problem for complement subjects, parentheticals, and the interpretation of nonspecific noun phrases.

The ingredients of definiteness and the definiteness effect

Keenan (1987) observed that trivial determiners built from basic existential determiners (e.g.,either zero or else more than zero) are allowed inthere-insertion contexts, and that trivial determiners