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Title: The syntax-pragmatics interface of focus phenomena in Greek
Author: Haidou, Konstantina
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2012
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The present thesis is dedicated to the study of information structure and more specifically the notion of focus with particular reference to the Greek language. Within the context of the cross-linguistic variation pertaining to the means that languages employ to encode focus, this study offers a rethinking of information structure phenomena in Greek relating to the means of encoding focus and focus interpretation contained in word order variation. In particular, amongst the mechanisms that languages employ to encode focus, I propose that the encoding of focus amid word order variation in Greek is subject to prosodic-discourse mechanisms, rather than syntactic ones: focus in Greek is associated at the level of prosody and interpreted off in a discourse context; specifically, a direct mapping from prosody to discourse. I reason the above arguing that prosody encodes information about the information structure of the sentence; it directly aims to 'anchor' the sentence into its context, providing the link between the meaning of the utterance and its appropriateness in discourse. To account for the above proposal, I offer a model of componential mapping between syntax, prosody and discourse that facilitates the direct PF-LF correspondence and predicts the position of focus prosodically and syntactically via the application of a special syntax-prosody mapping mechanism (alignment and misalignment). I argue that what gives us focus in Greek is a prosodic condition: focus via stress will always be assigned on the rightmost phonological word of the intonational phrase that contains it due to prosodic requirements. The above model predicts that the mapping from syntax to information structure underdetermines focus interpretation in Greek: a certain interpretive effect can be realized by multiple word orders. It follows that word order is not a determining factor in realizing focus in the language. I account for the above conundrum suggesting that it might well be the case that word order in Greek is not regulated by traditional accounts of information packaging but it is rather controlled by more abstract or conceptual strategies under which syntactic constituents map into logico-semantic structures: predicative vs. non-predicative mappings (Cécseg & Kiefer 2009, Kechagias 2011). In essence, I offer an alternative, non-syntactic outlook of focus encoding in Greek, arguing that the encoding of focus interpretation in the language does not employ a designated syntactic focus construction (àla Rizzi 1997).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral