Information Structure: An Introduction

Statement of Responsibility:
Dooley, Robert A
By means of information structure, speakers adapt sentences to the cognitive context of the discourse, to the presumed mental states of their hearers, and to their own communicative intentions – all of which are cognitive dimensions of language. This paper is an introduction to the subject, an attempt to set forth some of the basic facts of information structure. Although it defines the major categories in cognitive terms, as a syntactic framework it uses simple notions from descriptive grammar such as construction, constituent, core, nucleus, and dependent elements. The three basic core constructions – topic-comment, focus-presupposition, and sentence focus – all have the focus as their nucleus, and can be formally distinguished according to the types of dependent elements they require or, alternatively, according to what their focus includes. In the view presented here, a sentence’s information structure is generally simpler and more universal than its basic grammar, and can be largely considered independently of the particular model of basic grammar that is being used.
33 pages
Table of Contents:
1 Introduction -- 2 Focus -- 3 Basic core constructions (Focus types) -- 4 The periphery -- 5 Markers -- 6 Nested constructions -- 7 Contrast -- 8 Concluding remarks -- References
word order
point of departure
information structure
Content Language:
Nature of Work: