Information structure in the Danish language

Project goals

The project aims at developing a formal, construction-based model for the representation of information structure in Danish.

Why is it interesting?

Information structure is related to several different dimensions of the linguistic sign, and is therefore an interesting angle from which to investigate how these dimensions affect one another.

Theoretical framework

The project, which builds on my PhD dissertation, is an attempt at combining an HPSG-based formal approach as in Vallduví & Engdahl (1995) and Engdahl & Vallduví (1996) and insights from construction grammar as in Lambrecht (1994). In the proposed model information structure is represented by means of construction types displaying prosodic, syntactic and semantic features along with their information structure type. Such types are characterised by different combinations of topic, focus and background e.g.:

- topic focus:
(Hvad har børnene lavet?) [T De] [F har spist is].
'What have the children done? They have eaten icecream'.

- narrow focus:
(Hvem har spist isen?) [BG Det har] [F børnene].
'Who has eaten icecream? (That have) the children'.

- all focus:
(Hvad har I lavet?) [F Børnene har spist is].
'What have you done? The children had icecream.'

Each of these types can be expressed in quite different ways from the point of view of syntax, so the task is to describe the various grammatical constructions embodying these types and formalise them in feature structures.

Research questions

How do focus projection and focus inheritance work in Danish? Is the concept of VP relevant in this context? Are there different kinds of focus? How can the right-hand side of the focus domain be determined in Danish, if it is true that Danish lacks sentence accent? What role does deaccenting play?

CST contact

Patrizia Paggio patrizia @ cst.dk


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