Interpreting Accent

This paper grew out of a reaction to Elisabeth Selkirk's contribution to the Handbook of Phonology (Goldsmith 1996). Section 1.2 of that article is concerned with syntactic and semantic aspects of the placement of pitch accents in English. As will be seen in the data to be presented below, the constellation of pitch accents in an utterance is determined in part by properties of the preceding discourse, including the distinction between new and old information. This means for example, that a phrase containing accent is appropriate in a different set of contexts than that same phrase unaccented. Since accents are assigned within words but the pragmatics can make reference to phrases, the following question arises. Given a word that is accented, which phrases count as containing accent as far as the pragmatics is concerned and which not? This question is known as the projection problem, though I have characterized it in slightly different terms than is normally done, for reasons to be made clear below. As Selkirk shows, projection is sensitive to argument structure and other syntactic notions (see Gussenhoven(1984), Rochement(1986), Schmerling(1976) and Selkirk 1984)). In Selkirk's system, a sentence can have one or more foci and these foci are marked with an F in the syntactic tree. Focussing a phrase leads to a certain kind of..
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Daniel Büring (2003). On D-Trees, Beans, and B-Accents. Linguistics and Philosophy 26 (5):511 - 545.

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