Question-answer test and givenness : some question marks

  • In order to investigate the empirical properties of focus, it is necessary to diagnose focus (or: “what is focused”) in particular linguistic examples. It is often taken for granted that the application of one single diagnostic tool, the so-called question-answer test, which roughly says that whatever a question asks for is focused in the answer, is a fool-proof test for focus. This paper investigates one example class where such uncritical belief in the question-answer test has led to the assumption of rather complex focus projection rules: in these examples, pitch accent placement has been claimed to depend on certain parts of the focused constituents being given or not. It is demonstrated that such focus projection rules are unnecessarily complex and in turn require the assumption of unnecessarily complicated meaning rules, not to speak of the difficulties to give a precise semantic/pragmatic definition of the allegedly involved givenness property. For the sake of the argument, an alternative analysis is put forward which relies solely on alternative sets following Mats Rooth´s work, and avoids any recourse to givenness. As it turns out, this alternative analysis is not only simpler but also makes in a critical case the better predictions.

Download full text files

Export metadata

Additional Services

Share in Twitter Search Google Scholar
Author:Elke Kasimir
Parent Title (German):Approaches and findings in oral, written and gestural language / Ishihara, S., M. Schmitz, and A. Schwarz (eds.) ; Working Papers of the SFB 632, Interdisciplinary studies on information structure ; Vol. 3
Place of publication:Potsdam
Document Type:Part of a Book
Year of Completion:2005
Year of first Publication:2005
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2008/11/06
Tag:focus; givenness
Page Number:52
First Page:1
Last Page:52
Source: ; (in:) S. Ishihara / M. Schmitz/ A. Schwarz : Approaches and Findings in Oral, Written and Gestural Language, Interdisciplinary Studies on Information Structure (ISIS), 3, 2005, S. 1-52
Dewey Decimal Classification:4 Sprache / 40 Sprache / 400 Sprache
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht