Focus Below the Word Level

Natural Language Semantics 12 (1):1-22 (2004)
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Intonational focus can be observed on parts of words that appear to lack intrinsic meaning, and triggers alternatives that are similar in form. In order to provide a unified treatment of focus above and below the word level (they do, after all, behave the same in most respects), I develop a theory of denotations for arbitrary word parts in which focused word parts denote their own sound and the unfocused parts are functions from sounds to word meanings. This allows focus theories to generalize below the word level; any differences with focus above the word level are located in the semantics of word parts. The paper also explores phonological constraints on focus placement, and shows that the focusability of a word part depends solely on its prosodic status, not on any semantic factors



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Citations of this work

Expressions in Focus.Poppy Mankowitz - 2020 - Semantics and Pragmatics 13 (13).
Focus games.Jon Scott Stevens - 2016 - Linguistics and Philosophy 39 (5):395-441.
The Boundaries of Meaning: A Case Study in Neural Machine Translation.Yuri Balashov - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 66.

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References found in this work

A theory of focus interpretation.Mats Rooth - 1992 - Natural Language Semantics 1 (1):75-116.
Semantic Interpretation in Generative Grammar.Ray S. Jackendoff - 1975 - Foundations of Language 12 (4):561-582.
Studies on Semantics in Generative Grammar.Noam Chomsky - 1972 - Foundations of Language 12 (3):367-382.

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