Natural Language Semantics

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 75–116 | Cite as

A theory of focus interpretation

  • Mats Rooth


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 impossible. Furthermore, while focus has a uniform import, the sources of meaning differences in association with focus are various.


Meaning Difference Strong Version Alternative Semantic Pragmatic Process Focus Interpretation 
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mats Rooth
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für maschinelle SprachverarbeitungUniversität StuttgartStuttgart 1Germany

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