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The interaction between information structure, syntax and semantics: a comparative linguistic and interdisciplinary analysis.

One of the major functions of language is to convey information between speakers and hearers. Speakers have several linguistic means at their disposal to structure the information they want to communicate, e.g. active (Nous avons pris la décision) vs passive sentences (La décision a été prise) refer to the same referential content but the way in which the information is structured differs. Information Structure (IS) is a basic ingredient of human language in everyday life because the efficiency of linguistic communication largely depends on how information is structured in sentences and in text in general. The relevance of IS for linguistic analysis is widely recognized, but its precise nature, its interaction with syntax and semantics and its position in human language and cognition are still poorly understood. In order to contribute to a better understanding of IS, the goal of this project is to undertake a comparative analysis of two semantic phenomena (quantifier scope and anaphoric relations) in four IS-driven syntactic configurations in French, Spanish and English: verb-subject word order, impersonal (existential) structures, cleft sentences and dislocation. The main hypothesis underlying the research is that a full account of IS is only possible when both its syntactic and semantic effects are considered.

Date:1 Oct 2009 →  30 Sep 2019
Keywords:Information structure, Comparative linguistics, semantics, syntax, (discourse) pragmatics
Disciplines:Pragmatics, Comparative language studies, Semantics, Syntax