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Summary Details


Query:   Re:13.261 Focus
Author:  sharbani Banerji
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   General Linguistics

Summary:   SOMETIME BACK I HAD ASKED THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS RELATING TO FOCUS:

1) CAN ANYBODY EXPLAIN TO ME WHY AND HOW FOCUS IS RELATED TO THE EVENT
OF THE CLAUSE?
2) I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO KNOW WHICH OTHER LANGUAGE(S) CLEARLY SHOW SUCH A
CONNECTION.

I RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING RESPONSES:
AI)FROM: WERNER ABRAHAM

HE SENT ME THE FOLLOWING PAPER:

'THE GERMAN CLAUSE STRUCTURE UNDER DISCOURSE FUNCTIONAL WEIGHT: FOCUS
AND ANTIFOCUS'----WERNER ABRAHAM & L=E1SZL=F3 MOLNARFI
15CGSW-WA+LM.DOC/2/10/02
HE ALSO SENT ME THE CALL FOR CONTRIBUTIONS IN:

VOLUME OF FOLIA LINGUISTICA IN 2003 GUEST EDITED BY WERNER ABRAHAM &
L=E1SZL=F3 MOLNARFI. TOPIC: OPTIONALITY IN SYNTAX--ASPECTS OF WORD ORDER
VARIATION IN (WEST) GERMANIC

WERNER ABRAHAM, VISITING PROFESSOR 2000/2002
DEPT. OF GERMAN, 5333 DWINELLE, UCB
BERKELEY, CA 94720-3243
TEL. +1-510-642-2004, FAX +1-510-642-3243
AS OF MID-MAY 2002:
WERNER.ABRAHAM@DIREKT.AT
MAITSCHERN 128, A-8942 WOERSCHACH, TEL=3DFAX: +43-3682-23175

B) DANIEL WEDGWOOD
SENT THE FOLLOWING VERY INFORMATIVE REPLY:

THE CLEAREST PROPOSAL THAT I KNOW OF REGARDING EVENTS AND FOCUS IS
ELENA HERBURGER'S ATTEMPT TO CAPTURE FOCUS MEANINGS USING
NEO-DAVIDSONIAN SEMANTIC REPRESENTATIONS, AS EXPOUNDED IN HER BOOK
`WHAT COUNTS' (2000, MIT PRESS). SHE PROPOSES THAT, IN A `TRIPARTITE'
SCHEMA OF EXISTENTIAL QUANTIFICATION OVER AN EVENT VARIABLE, THE FOCUS
IS IN THE `NUCLEAR SCOPE' OF THE QUANTIFIER, WHILE (ONLY)
THEMATIC/NON-FOCUS MATERIAL IS MAPPED IN TO THE RESTRICTOR. SO `FRED
[ATE THE BEANS]' (VP FOCUS) IS SOMEETHING LIKE (1A), WHILE `FRED ATE
THE BEANS' LOOKS MORE LIKE (1B) [AND HERE THE INITIAL `E' SHOULD BE
THE EXISTENTIAL QUANTIFIER]:

1A) EE [AGENT(E,FRED')] EAT(E) & PAST(E) & THEME(E,THE-BEANS') &
AGENT(E,FRED')

`THERE IS AN EVENT WITH FRED AS ITS AGENT SUCH THAT FRED ATE THE BEANS'

B) EE [EAT(E) & PAST(E) & THEME(E,THE-BEANS')] AGENT(E,FRED') & EAT(E) &
PAST(E) & THEME(E,THE-BEANS')

`THERE IS AN EATING EVENT IN THE PAST WITH THE BEANS AS ITS THEME SUCH
THAT FRED WAS THE AGENT OF THAT EVENT'

[THIS IS A VERY ROUGH VERSION OF HER REPRESENTATIONS!]

IN OTHER WORDS, HERBURGER PROPOSES THAT THE RESTRICTOR OF THE EVENT
QUANTIFICATION IS WHAT THE SENTENCE IS `ABOUT', LEAVING THE NUCLEAR
SCOPE AS FOCUS. THE PARAPHRASES PERHAPS GIVE AN INTUITIVE INSIGHT INTO
WHY FOCUS AND EVENT SEMANTICS MIGHT BE LINKED.

A REVIEW OF THIS BOOK APPEARED ON THE LINGUIST LIST LAST YEAR AND THIS
MIGHT GIVE YOU A BETTER DESCRIPTION THAN I CAN MANAGE OF THE IDEAS IN
IT.
THE REVIEW CAN BE READ AT:
HTTP://LINGUISTLIST.ORG/ISSUES/12/12-1356.HTML#1

HERBURGER ALSO HAS AN ARTICLE CALLED `FOCUS AND WEAK NOUN PHRASES' IN
THE JOURNAL `NATURAL LANGUAGE SEMANTICS' (1997), WHICH CONTAINS A
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THIS GENERAL APPROACH .

HERBURGER'S IDEAS HAVE A CERTAIN INTUITIVE APPEAL, BUT, INTERESTINGLY,
EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE PROPOSAL HAS ALSO BEEN MADE BEFORE: I.E. THAT
FOCUSED MATERIAL IS MAPPED INTO THE RESTRICTOR OF EVENT
QUANTIFICATION, WHILE THEMATIC MATERIAL RELATED TO THE NUCLEAR
SCOPE. THIS IDEA WAS PUT FORWARD BY LARSON & LEFEBVRE IN THE FOLLOWING
ARTICLE:

LARSON, RICHARD & CLAIRE LEFEBVRE. 1991.

LL Issue: 13.379
Date Posted: 11-Feb-2002
Original Query: Read original query