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Summary Details

Query:   Sum: Focus condition on Heavy Shift
Author:  Carsten Breul
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Semantics

Summary:   Dear all

In LINGUIST 9.1618, I posted the following query:

There seems to be a focus condition for Heavy Shift
constructions such that the shifted constituent has to be
the focus expression (or contains the focus expression) to
be acceptable/grammatical.

My question is whether marked sentence accentuation
may override this requirement. That is, is it possible to
say e.g.

(1) Kelly bought for SAM a brand new computer.
(2) KELLY bought for Sam a brand new computer.?

Here, heavy (contrastive) stress is put on 'Sam'/'Kelly' in
order to prosodically mark them as the focus expressions
with the object shifted at the same time.

I have received 6 replies (all by native speakers of English,
as far as I can tell). Once again a big THANK YOU to them

It seems that for one or two of the informants my question
does not make sense. This is either because they do not
accept the construction 'buy something for somebody'
(instead of 'buy somebody something') in the first place, or
because I have not made clear enough what I am getting at in
the formulation of the query. (By the way, I took the
sentences from an article by Michael Shaun Rochemont
("Phonological focus and structural focus", in. Culicover,
Peter W. & McNally, Louise (eds.) 1998. _Syntax and
Semantics_. Vol. 29. _The Limits of Syntax_. San Diego et
al.: Academic Press. 337-363. The only thing I changed is
capitalisation to indicate heavy stress on the names. To my
knowledge, Rochemont is a native speaker of English.)

For 3 of the remaining 4 informants, sentence (1) is o.k. if
highly marked and in need of a proper communicative
situation. One of these 3 made a distinction between (1)
and (2), i.e. accepted (1) but could not think of a situation
where (2) would be appropriate.

Dr. Carsten Breul
Englisches Seminar
Universitaet Bonn
Regina-Pacis-Weg 5
53113 Bonn

LL Issue: 8.675
Date Posted: 07-May-1997
Original Query: Read original query


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