Semantics, Intonation, and Information Structure

Daniel Büring

in The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Interfaces

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780199247455
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Semantics, Intonation, and Information Structure


This article explores the influences of information structure (IS) on intonation. It proposes an account whereby a single syntactic representation, which contains formal features such as focus (F), and contrastive topic (CT), is seen by both the phonological and interpretational modules of the grammar. The two aspects of IS that have received the most attention in recent formal work on IS – focus background and topic comment – are given. For each, a sketch of their realization and, more extensively, their interpretation, is offered. The article then addresses the effect of IS on constituent order in various languages. It is shown that IS realization can be thought of as a set of mapping requirements, in addition to those of default prosody, between syntactic structure and prosodic structure, which make reference to the IS representations (e.g. F and CT marking) in the syntax.

Keywords: information structure; intonation; semantics; focus background; contrastive topic; grammar; constituent order; languages

Article.  11494 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Semantics ; Pragmatics

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