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Title: The Computing of Discourse Focus
Written By: Wei Zuo
Yan Zuo
Series Title: LINCOM Studies in Pragmatics 06

This dissertation is a comprehensive and in-depth study of the notion of
focus with two of its salient characteristics being the interdisciplinary
approach adopted and the range of query covered. The research is largely
motivated by the realization that focus is a notion figuring crucially in
both core linguistic studies such as phonetics/phonology, syntax,
semantics, and discourse analysis, and peripheral linguistic areas such as
psycholinguistics, cognitive linguistics and in particular computational

The major contributions of the study can be summarized as follows. Firstly
after a critical review of the various previous definitional accounts, it
is concluded that the notion of focus is best defined as a
cognito-pragmatic one and accordingly the constructs of knowledge store and
discourse model are postulated before a working definition of focus is
proposed. Secondly, on the basis of this definition, the process of focus
determination in discourse is captured in the form of a formal algorithm,
namely, Focus Determination Algorithm (FDA), which, being programmable and
operationable, can be integrated into the discourse modeling system. This
formalization is enabled by the constructs of knowledge store and discourse
model introduced before and substantiated by research findings from social
psychology and neuropsychology. Thirdly, the linguistic, in particular the
prosodic, means of realizing focus is discussed and for this purpose data
from a range of languages are cited. Similar to the determination of focus,
the process of how accent is assigned on the basis of focus is also
captured in a semi-formalized manner by virtue of a procedural algorithm,
namely, an Accent Determination Procedure (ADP).

As just mentioned, the research is marked by its interdisciplinary
perspective; it incorporates impetuses, insights and inputs from core
linguistics (specifically phonology and discourse analysis), computational
linguistics, social psychology, and neuropsychology. What is particularly
noteworthy is its orientation towards and potential significance for
natural language processing, especially the generation of natural speech by
enabling the integration of discourse-level information such as focus into
the prosody generation model.

Key Words: focus; cognito-pragmatic; discourse generation; accentuation;
natural language.

2nd printing 2007.

Publication Year: 2007
Publisher: Lincom GmbH
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BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis
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Format: Paperback
ISBN: 3895866172
ISBN-13: N/A
Pages: 180
Prices: Europe EURO 67.00