Focus Triggers and Focus Types from a Corpus Perspective

Arndt Riester, Stefan Baumann


The article discusses several issues relevant for the annotation of written and spoken corpus data with information structure. We discuss ways to identify focus top-down (via questions under discussion) or bottom-up (starting from pitch accents). We introduce a two-dimensional labelling scheme for information status and propose a way to distinguish between contrastive and non-contrastive information. Moreover, we take side in a current debate, claiming that focus is triggered by two sources: newness and elicited alternatives (contrast). This may lead to a high number of semantic-pragmatic foci in a single sentence. In each prosodic phrase there can be one primary focus (marked by a nuclear pitch accent) and several secondary foci (marked by weaker prosodic prominence). Second occurrence focus is one instance of secondary focus.

Full Text: PDF ISSN: 2152-9620   Journal doi: 10.5087/dad