Focus and the syntax-phonology interface
The aim of this work is to describe the different ways languages express
focus and to explain why languages use exactly these ways. I give a detailed
account of focus in three languages: Hungarian, English and Italian.
The work is based on the assumption that the following principle
operates at the interface between the grammar and the conceptualintentional
system of the mind.
(1) Focus Interpretation:
The focus of a clause is any syntactic constituent that
contains the main stress of the intonational phrase
corresponding to the clause.
(Following Reinhart 1995:62)
It is widely believed that languages may mark focus by a special word
order only. I argue against this view in my discussion about Hungarian. In
Hungarian, a special word order is used when a particular element is in
focus. I argue that this special word order is intimately related to the way
main stress is assigned in the language. Thus I establish a crucial link
between two types of focus marking: one which uses a phonological marker,
e.g. English, and one which marks focus by special word order, e.g.
Hungarian, reducing the latter ultimately to phonology.
Subsequently I describe the architecture of the grammar from the
perspective of focus marking. I show that languages that mark focus by main
stress may realise marked focus patterns in three dfferent ways. Furthermore,
I show that these three ways are the only possible ways to express focus by
main stress. There is no other possibility available.
From a theoretical perspective this work intends to investigate the
role of the different modules of the grammar, in particular of syntax and phonology and the mapping between the two, in the representation of
certain pragmatic notions such as focus.