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Intonation and Meaning$
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Daniel Büring

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199226269

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199226269.001.0001

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More on the semantics of focus and givenness

More on the semantics of focus and givenness

(p.99) 5 More on the semantics of focus and givenness
Intonation and Meaning

Daniel Büring

Oxford University Press

The previous chapters introduced specific characterizations and even definitions of focussing and similar concepts, postponing their justification to this chapter. The literature contains a huge number of informal and pseudo-formal alternative characterizations, which from a distance may all seem equivalent. Closer scrutiny reveals that most of them are inadequate, or simply untestable, thereby making the case for the concepts used so far. Still, various empirical challenges turn out to be very real, even where the proposed solutions prove to be in need of refinement. Particularly relevant in this connection are observations by Wagner which strongly suggest that focussing requires ‘contrast’ in a sense that is stricter than that advocated by Rooth or Schwarzschild (and previously deemed appropriate, if perhaps not entirely intuitive), discussed in detail here. Other unresolved issues and problems in alternative semantics are reviewed at the end of the chapter.

Keywords:   focus semantics, givenness semantics, contrast, alternative semantics, salience, presupposition

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