Natural Language Semantics

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 1–22 | Cite as

Focus Below the Word Level

  • Ron Artstein


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 theories to generalize below the word level; any differences with focus above the word level are located in the semantics of word parts. The paper also explores phonological constraints on focus placement, and shows that the focusability of a word part depends solely on its prosodic status, not on any semantic factors.


Unify Treatment Word Meaning Word Level Semantic Factor Word Part 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ron Artstein
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory for Computational Linguistics, Department of Computer Science, Technion – Israel Institute of TechnologyHaifaIsrael E-mail

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