LINGUIST List 14.70

Thu Jan 9 2003

Diss: Syntax: Godjevac "Intonation, Word Order..."

Editor for this issue: Karolina Owczarzak <>


  1. svetlana, Syntax: Godjevac "Intonation, Word Order, and Focus..."

Message 1: Syntax: Godjevac "Intonation, Word Order, and Focus..."

Date: Thu, 09 Jan 2003 13:35:53 +0000
From: svetlana <>
Subject: Syntax: Godjevac "Intonation, Word Order, and Focus..."

New Dissertation Abstract

Institution: Ohio State University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2000

Author: Svetlana Godjevac 

Dissertation Title: 
Intonation, Word Order, and Focus Projection in Serbo-Croatian

Linguistic Field: Syntax, Pragmatics, Phonology

Subject Language: Serbo-croatian

Dissertation Director 1: Craige Roberts
Dissertation Director 2: Mary Beckman
Dissertation Director 3: Peter Culicover

Dissertation Abstract: 

It is well established in the literature that focus and prosodic
prominence are related. However, the nature of this relationship is
still under debate. The standard assumption Selkirk1984,1995;
Rochemont:1986,1998) is that this relationship, also known as focus
projection, is syntactically constrained. However, this assumption has
not gone unchallenged (Schwarzschild 1999; Chapman 1998; Kadmon:2000).

In this thesis I present Serbo-Croatian data that bear on the
focus-prominence relation. By integrating a detailed intonational
study with syntactic and semantic analyses, the picture that emerges
of the focus system in Serbo-Croatian is one in which prosodic cues
and word order provide separate but related cues for indicating
focus. I show that these two types of focus marking (prosodic vs.
positional), although complementary in many ways, can be unified by
the same set of constraints on focus projection. This set of
constraints is a modified version of the Selkirk/Rochemont style Focus
Projection Algorithm. The constraints include sensitivity to argument
structure, semantic type of focus exponent, and word order. This
result then argues in favor of a syntactically constrained
relationship between focus marking and focus. In particular, using the
notion of syntactic constituency seems to be the most parsimonious way
to account for constraints governing word order. If this conclusion is
accepted it also has consequences for the syntactic representation of
scrambling. One of the main claims of the thesis is that focus
projection in a language that has a positional focus is sensitive to
argument structure. This is surprising given that most research on
other languages with a positional focus (Kiss 1995; Zubizarreta 1998;
Kidwai 2000) imply absence of this constraint.
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