Information Structure in Discourse: Towards an Integrated Formal Theory of Pragmatics

Semantics and Pragmatics 5:1-69 (1996)
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Abstract

A framework for pragmatic analysis is proposed which treats discourse as a game, with context as a scoreboard organized around the questions under discussion by the interlocutors. The framework is intended to be coordinated with a dynamic compositional semantics. Accordingly, the context of utterance is modeled as a tuple of different types of information, and the questions therein — modeled, as is usual in formal semantics, as alternative sets of propositions — constrain the felicitous flow of discourse. A requirement of Relevance is satisfied by an utterance (whether an assertion, a question or a suggestion) iff it addresses the question under discussion. Finally, it is argued that the prosodic focus of an utterance canonically serves to reflect the question under discussion (at least in English), placing additional constraints on felicity in context.

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