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Gradience in GrammarGenerative Perspectives$
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Gisbert Fanselow, Caroline Féry, Matthias Schlesewsky, and Ralf Vogel

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199274796

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199274796.001.0001

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What’s What?

What’s What?

(p.317) 16 What’s What?
Gradience in Grammar


Oxford University Press

This chapter shows that the source of graded acceptability judgments cannot be purely syntactic. Instead, such data area forecasted by information structure (IS) constraints. The chapter argues that extraction is completely determined by IS constraints, in particular that only focus domains are apparent for purposes of extraction. It concludes that any phenomenon which differs with context among and across speakers cannot have a syntactic account. An account in terms of IS is aided to predict this kind of variation. Thus, a syntactic constraint violation will be ungrammatical, a violation of an IS constraint will allow contextual variation and will thus result in gradience. There will be no weak syntactic constraints, only strong ones. A theory of IS, — f(ocus)-structure theory — geared to interact with syntax, phonology, and semantics, is introduced and viewed as an essential part of grammar.

Keywords:   information structure, f(ocus)-structure theory, syntax, phonology, semantics, superiority, acceptability judgments, gradience, grammar

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