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Information Structure and its Interfaces

  • Erscheinungsdatum: 26.02.2009
  • Verlag: De Gruyter Mouton
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Information Structure and its Interfaces

The volume presents recent results in the field of Information Structure based on research on Italian and Italian dialects, and on further studies on several typologically different languages. The central idea is that Information Structure is not an exclusive matter of syntax but an interface issue which involves the interplay of at least the phonological, morpho-syntactic and semantic-pragmatic levels of analysis. In addition, the volume is based on the study of actual language use and it adopts a cross-linguistic point of view.
Lunella Mereu , University of Roma Tre, Italy.


    Format: PDF
    Kopierschutz: watermark
    Seitenzahl: 435
    Erscheinungsdatum: 26.02.2009
    Sprache: Englisch
    ISBN: 9783110213973
    Verlag: De Gruyter Mouton
    Größe: 3016 kBytes
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Information Structure and its Interfaces

Information structure in Slavic languages Lucyna Gebert (p. 308-309)

1. Introduction

The aim of this paper is to present the main strategies by means of which Slavic languages convey information, illustrating the distinction between the group of inflected languages such as Polish and Russian, on the one hand, and, on the other, Balkan Sprachbund languages such as Bulgarian and Macedonian, which have lost case declension. I will first briefly illustrate the interaction between pragmatics and word order in the two northern Slavic languages mentioned above, which have very similar grammatical systems. I should add that intonation also plays an important role within the information structure, but the prosodic dimension will be examined only marginally.

I will then present segmental exponents of pragmatic function in Polish and Russian such as the deictics to/eto, which occur in sentences that may be regarded as a functional equivalent of cleft sentences. The subsequent section deals with a Russian construction known as the "nominative of the theme", which is a rather unusual construction in languages with noun inflection. Indeed, similar constructions also occur in Bulgarian and require the reduplication of the dislocated argument by means of a clitic. The final part is devoted to the pragmatic strategies of the two Balkan Slavic languages, and especially to the interaction between clitic doubling and word order.

2. Word order in Polish and Russian

There is a widespread notion that free word order in Slavic languages is a product of noun inflection, in so far as the latter guarantees that syntactic relations be maintained within the sentence.1 It is a known fact that word order in these languages is governed by pragmatics. Thus, in Russian and Polish, all the constituents of a declarative sentence with a two-argument verb can move freely, without any consequences on its syntactic structure, this gives rise to six combinations, as the following examples from Polish show:

The pragmatic value of these sentences, if pronounced with an unmarked, descendent intonation, reflects the linearization of old and new information as formulated in the principle of "progression from old to new information" by Antinucci and Cinque (1977). The first of the examples above illustrates the basic word order, whereby either the first element alone or the first two elements are presented as old information. It is thus suitable for contexts in which the entire sentence conveys new information, namely at the beginning of a discourse. In Polish (but the same also holds for Russian), when word order is pragmatically marked, the topical constituents which represent old information occupy the left part of the sentence string. This is illustrated in (2), where the topical constituents are linearized first as SO and then as OS.

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