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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more



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Academic Paper


Title: Information structure in Turkish: The word order–prosody interface
Paper URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0024-3841(03)00012-3
Author: Selcuk Issever
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: http://www.linguistics.humanity.ankara.edu.tr/issev_e.html
Institution: Ankara University
Linguistic Field: General Linguistics; Pragmatics; Syntax
Subject Language: Turkish
Abstract: This study investigates the linguistic realization of information structure (IS) in Turkish. Following Vallduví and Engdahl [Linguistics 34 (1996) 459], Hoffman (Hoffman, B., 1995. The Computational Analysis of the Syntax and Interpretation of "Free" Word Order in Turkish. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Pennsylvania), and Kılıçaslan (Kılıçaslan, Y., 1994. Information Packaging in Turkish. Unpublished MSc dissertation, University of Edinburgh), it is assumed that IS has a tripartite structure, consisting of topic, tail, and focus. The main claim of this paper is that syntax and phonology, by means of word order and prosody, are both responsible for the realization of the IS units. Thus, neither syntax nor phonology can be reduced to a secondary role. The word order–prosody interface reveals that presentational-focus and contrastive-focus are two distinct phenomena in Turkish, which are marked by different focusing strategies, i.e. syntactic and prosodic. It is shown that without drawing the distinction between the two types of focus, focusing phenomena in Turkish cannot be explained. This study also provides a schema representing the surface level structuring of IS in Turkish. At the same time, it is brought to light that in the interaction between specificity and IS, word order is employed in an extremely ‘free’ way to mark the ground elements. This empirical fact suggests that the relation between specificity and IS is far more complex in Turkish than suggested in the previous literature.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Publication Info: Lingua, 113:11, 1025-1053.
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0024-3841(03)00012-3


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