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  1. Scott AnderBois (2012). Focus and Uninformativity in Yucatec Maya Questions. Natural Language Semantics 20 (4):349-390.
    Crosslinguistically, questions frequently make crucial use of morphosyntactic elements which also occur outside of questions. Chief among these are focus, disjunctions, and wh-words with indefinite semantics. This paper provides a compositional account of the semantics of wh-, alternative, and polar questions in Yucatec Maya (YM), which are composed primarily of these elements. Key to the account is a theory of disjunctions and indefinites (extending work by others) which recognizes the inherently inquisitive nature of these elements. While disjunctions and indefinites are (...)
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  2. Ron Artstein (2004). Focus Below the Word Level. Natural Language Semantics 12 (1):1-22.
    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 (...)
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  3. David I. Beaver (2008). Sense and Sensitivity: How Focus Determines Meaning. Blackwell Pub..
    Sense and Sensitivity explores the semantics and pragmatics of focus in natural language discourse, advancing a new account of focus sensitivity which posits a three-way distinction between different effects of focus. Makes a valuable contribution to the ongoing research in the field of focus sensitivity Discusses the features of QFC, an original theory of focus implying a new typology of focus-sensitive expressions Presents novel cross-linguistic data on focus and focus sensitivity Concludes with a case study of exclusives (like “only”), arguing (...)
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  4. David Beaver & Brady Clark (2003). Always and Only: Why Not All Focus-Sensitive Operators Are Alike. [REVIEW] Natural Language Semantics 11 (4):323-362.
    We discuss focus sensitivity in English, the phenomenon whereby interpretation of some expressions is affected by placement of intonational focus. We concentrate in particular on the interpretation of always and only, both of which are interpreted as universal quantifiers, and both of which are focus sensitive. Using both naturally occurring and constructed data we explore the interaction of these operators with negative polarity items, with presupposition, with prosodically reduced elements, and with syntactic extraction. On the basis of this data we (...)
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  5. Sigrid Beck (2006). Focus on Again. Linguistics and Philosophy 29 (3):277 - 314.
    This paper examines the effect that focus has on repetitive versus restitutive again. It is argued that a pragmatic explanation of the effect is the right strategy. The explanation builds largely on a standard focus semantics. To this we add an anaphoric analysis of again’s presupposition and a detailed analysis of the alternatives triggered when focus falls on again.
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  6. Sigrid Beck (2006). Intervention Effects Follow From Focus Interpretation. Natural Language Semantics 14 (1):1-56.
    The paper provides a semantic analysis of intervention effects in wh-questions. The interpretation component of the grammar derives uninterpretability, hence ungrammaticality, of the intervention data. In the system of compositional interpretation that I suggest, wh-phrases play the same role as focused phrases, introducing alternatives into the computation. Unlike focus, wh-phrases make no ordinary semantic contribution. An intervention effect occurs whenever a focus-sensitive operator other than the question operator tries to evaluate a constituent containing a wh-phrase. It is argued that this (...)
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  7. Andrea Bonomi & Paolo Casalegno (1993). Only: Association with Focus in Event Semantics. [REVIEW] Natural Language Semantics 2 (1):1-45.
    We propose an analysis ofonly in terms of event semantics. This approach allows a unified treatment of a wide range of cases in whichonly is associated with focused expressions of different categories. Section 1 is devoted to a preliminary discussion of some problems that a good analysis ofonly should solve. In section 2 we concentrate on sentences in which the focused expression is a NP. In section 3 we show how our analysis can be extended to other categories. Finally, section (...)
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  8. Daniel Büring (2003). On D-Trees, Beans, and B-Accents. Linguistics and Philosophy 26 (5):511 - 545.
    This paper presents a comprehensive pragmatic theory of contrastive topic and its relation to focus in English. In discussing various constructions involving contrastive topics, it argues that they make reference to complex, hierarchical aspects of discourse structure. In this, it follows and spells out a proposal sketched in Roberts (1996, p. 121ff),using the formal tools found in Büring (1994,1997b). It improves on existing accounts in the accuracy with which it predicts the non-occurrence of the accent patterns associated with focus and (...)
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  9. Ariel Cohen & Nomi Erteschik-Shir (2002). Topic, Focus, and the Interpretation of Bare Plurals. Natural Language Semantics 10 (2):125-165.
    In this paper we show that focus structure determines the interpretation of bare plurals in English: topic bare plurals are interpreted generically, focused bare plurals are interpreted existentially. When bare plurals are topics they must be specific, i.e. they refer to kinds. After type-shifting they introduce variables which can be bound by the generic quantifier, yielding characterizing generics. Existentially interpreted bare plurals are not variables, but denote properties that are incorporated into the predicate.The type of predicate determines the interpretation of (...)
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  10. Noah Constant (2012). English Rise-Fall-Rise: A Study in the Semantics and Pragmatics of Intonation. [REVIEW] Linguistics and Philosophy 35 (5):407-442.
    This paper provides a semantic analysis of English rise-fall-rise (RFR) intonation as a focus quantifier over assertable alternative propositions. I locate RFR meaning in the conventional implicature dimension, and propose that its effect is calculated late within a dynamic model. With a minimum of machinery, this account captures disambiguation and scalar effects, as well as interactions with other focus operators like ‘only’ and clefts. Double focus data further support the analysis, and lead to a rejection of Ward and Hirschberg’s (Language (...)
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  11. H. Wind Cowles, Matthew Walenski & Robert Kluender (2007). Linguistic and Cognitive Prominence in Anaphor Resolution: Topic, Contrastive Focus and Pronouns. Topoi 26 (1):3-18.
    This paper examines the role that linguistic and cognitive prominence play in the resolution of anaphor–antecedent relationships. In two experiments, we found that pronouns are immediately sensitive to the cognitive prominence of potential antecedents when other antecedent selection cues are uninformative. In experiment 1, results suggest that despite their theoretical dissimilarities, topic and contrastive focus both serve to enhance cognitive prominence. Results from experiment 2 suggest that the contrastive prosody appropriate for focus constructions may also play an important role in (...)
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  12. S. Morris Engel (1969). Language and Illumination. The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff.
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  13. Danny Fox, Focus, Parallelism and Accommodation.
    It is well-known that constructions involving ellipsis (i.e. construction in which semantically interpreted material is not realized phonologically, henceforth ECs) share many properties with constructions that involve phonological reduction (in which semantically interpreted material is realized phonologically but in a reduced form, henceforth PRCs). (See, among others, Lasnik 1972, Chomsky and Lasnik 1993, Rooth 1992 and Tancredi 1992.) The similarity between ECs and PRCs is semantic: the interpretation of both is constrained by the interpretation of an antecedent (Parallelism). (...)
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  14. Danny Fox & Roni Katzir (2011). On the Characterization of Alternatives. Natural Language Semantics 19 (1):87-107.
    We present an argument for revising the theory of alternatives for Scalar Implicatures and for Association with Focus. We argue that in both cases the alternatives are determined in the same way, as a contextual restriction of the focus value of the sentence, which, in turn, is defined in structure-sensitive terms. We provide evidence that contextual restriction is subject to a constraint that prevents it from discriminating between alternatives when they stand in a particular logical relationship with the assertion or (...)
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  15. Michael Glanzberg (2005). Focus: A Case Study on the Semantics–Pragmatics Boundary. In Zoltan Szabo (ed.), Semantics Versus Pragmatics. Oxford University Press. 72--110.
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  16. Elena Herburger (1997). Focus and Weak Noun Phrases. Natural Language Semantics 5 (1):53-78.
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  17. Michela Ippolito (2007). On the Meaning of Some Focus-Sensitive Particles. Natural Language Semantics 15 (1):1-34.
    In this paper, I argue that the aspectual, marginality, and concessive uses of the grading particles still and already can be reduced to the fol lowing three classes of focus sensitive-grading particles: additive particles like too, scalar particles like even, and exclusive particles like only. The meaning differences among the occurrences of still (and already) are mostly reduced to the differences among these three classes of grading particles. In turn, these differences are shown to correlate with what type of object (...)
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  18. Roni Katzir (2013). A Note on Contrast. Natural Language Semantics 21 (4):333-343.
    The semantics of association with focus and the pragmatic conditions governing the appropriateness of focus in discourse are usually taken to depend on focus alternatives. According to a common view, these alternatives are generated by a permissive process. This permissive view has been challenged by Michael Wagner, who has noted that certain alternatives are systematically excluded from consideration. Wagner describes a more restrictive view, on which only contrastive alternatives are relevant for association with focus and for the appropriateness of focus (...)
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  19. Angelika Kratzer, Interpreting Focus: Presupposed or Expressive Meanings? A Comment on Geurts and Van der Sandt.
    The BPR assumes that we already know how sentences are partitioned into focused and backgrounded material, and this is quite legitimate, given the literature on the topic (see e.g. Krifka (1991), von Stechow (1991)). If the BPR was true, no more would have to be said about the meaning of focus. The behavior of whatever inferences are generated by backgrounding could be taken care of by theories dealing with the projection of presuppositions of the familiar kind, the presuppositions of definite (...)
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  20. Ivona Kučerová (2012). Grammatical Marking of Givenness. Natural Language Semantics 20 (1):1-30.
    Schwarzschild (Nat Lang Semant 7:141–177, 1999)’s account of givenness elaborates a notion of complementarity of givenness and focus in an intricate way: while givenness is semantically interpreted, focus is grammatically marked. It has been noticed, however, that under certain circumstances givenness in English is grammatically marked as well. Movement plays a role in this process. This paper provides further evidence for givenness marking. I present a case study of three Slavic languages (Czech, Russian, and Serbo-Croatian) in which givenness is always (...)
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  21. Utpal Lahiri (1998). Focus and Negative Polarity in Hindi. Natural Language Semantics 6 (1):57-123.
    This paper presents an analysis of negative polarity items (NPIs) in Hindi. It is noted that NPIs in this language are composed of a (weak) indefinite plus a particle bhii meaning ‘even’. It is argued that the compositional semantics of this combination explains their behavior as NPIs as well as their behavior as free choice (FC) items. I assume that weak Hindi indefinites like ek and koi are to be viewed as a predicate that I call one, a predicate that (...)
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  22. Pavel Materna, Eva Hajičová & Petr Sgall (1987). Redundant Answers and Topic-Focus Articulation. Linguistics and Philosophy 10 (1):101 - 113.
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  23. Jaroslav Peregrin, Topic-Focus Articulation as Generalized Quantification.
    Recent results of Partee, Rooth, Krifka and other formal semanticians confirm that topic-focus articulation (TFA) of sentence is relevant for its semantics. The essential import of TFA, which is more apparent in case of a language with relatively free word order such as Czech than in case of English, has been traditionally intensively studied by Czech linguists. In this paper we would like to indicate the possibility of the account for TFA in terms of the theory of generalized quantifiers, drawing (...)
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  24. Stephen G. Pulman (1997). Higher Order Unification and the Interpretation of Focus. Linguistics and Philosophy 20 (1):73-115.
    Higher order unification is a way of combining information (or equivalently, solving equations) expressed as terms of a typed higher order logic. A suitably restricted form of the notion has been used as a simple and perspicuous basis for the resolution of the meaning of elliptical expressions and for the interpretation of some non-compositional types of comparative construction also involving ellipsis. This paper explores another area of application for this concept in the interpretation of sentences containing intonationally marked focus, or (...)
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  25. Murali Ramachandran (2008). Descriptions and Pressupositions: Strawson Vs. Russel. South African Journal of Philosophy 27 (3):242-257.
    A Russellian theory of (definite) descriptions takes an utterance of the form ‘The F is G' to express a purely general proposition that affirms the existence of a (contextually) unique F: there is exactly one F [which is C] and it is G. Strawson, by contrast, takes the utterer to presuppose in some sense that there is exactly one salient F, but this is not part of what is asserted; rather, when the presupposition is not met the utterance simply fails (...)
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  26. Matthew Reeve (2012). Clefts and Their Relatives. John Benjamins Pub. Co..
    Introduction -- The syntax of English clefts -- Clefts and the licensing of relative clauses -- Clefts in Slavonic languages -- The syntax of specificational sentences -- Conclusion.
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  27. Mats Rooth (1992). A Theory of Focus Interpretation. Natural Language Semantics 1 (1):75-116.
    According to the alternative semantics for focus, the semantic reflec of intonational focus is a second semantic value, which in the case of a sentence is a set of propositions. We examine a range of semantic and pragmatic applications of the theory, and extract a unitary principle specifying how the focus semantic value interacts with semantic and pragmatic processes. A strong version of the theory has the effect of making lexical or construction-specific stipulation of a focus-related effect in association-with-focus constructions (...)
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  28. Yael Sharvit & Penka Stateva (2002). Superlative Expressions, Context, and Focus. Linguistics and Philosophy 25 (4):453-504.
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  29. Cindy D. Stern (1993). Semantic Emphasis in Causal Sentences. Synthese 95 (3):379 - 418.
    A shift in emphasis can change the truth-value of a singular causal sentence. This poses a challenge to the view that singular sentences predicate a relation. I argue that emphasized causal sentences conjoin predication of a causal relation between events with predication of a relation of causal relevance between states of affairs (or perhaps facts). This is superior to the treatments of such sentences offered by Achinstein, Dretske, Kim, Sanford, Bennett, and Levin. My proposal affords clarity regarding logical structure, at (...)
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  30. Eric Swanson (2010). Structurally Defined Alternatives and Lexicalizations of XOR. Linguistics and Philosophy 33 (1):31-36.
    In his recent paper on the symmetry problem Roni Katzir argues that the only relevant factor for the calculation of any Quantity implicature is syntactic structure. I first refute Katzir’s thesis with three examples that show that structural complexity is irrelevant to the calculation of some Quantity implicatures. I then argue that it is inadvisable to assume—as Katzir and others do—that exactly one factor is relevant to the calculation of any Quantity implicature.
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  31. Kjell Johan Sæbø (2007). Focus Interpretation in Thetic Statements: Alternative Semantics and Optimality Theory Pragmatics. [REVIEW] Journal of Logic, Language and Information 16 (1):15-33.
    Broad focus (or informational integration or nonautonomy) is lexically and contextually constrained, but these constraints are not well understood. On a standard theory of focus interpretation, the presupposition of a broad focus is verified whenever those of two narrow foci are. I argue that to account for cases where two narrow foci are preferred, it is necessary to assume that broad focus competes with two narrow foci and implicates the opposite of what they presuppose. Central constraints on thetic statements are (...)
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