Theoretical and Empirical Background

  • Nicole Gotzner
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Pragmatics, Language and Cognition book series (PSPLC)


This chapter provides an overview of the theoretical and empirical background to this book. The first part of this chapter presents the relevant theoretical concepts. Starting out with the notion of focus in alternative semantics, I will turn to the prosodic realization of focus, the grammar of association with focus, and different groups of focus particles. I will then compare the inferences triggered by focus particles to that of bare focus marking and I will discuss pragmatic factors that might influence the perception of contrast. The second part of this chapter discusses previous findings on the role of focus structure in language processing and the representation of focus alternatives. Starting from early work on focus processing, it is shown that most previous work was devoted to focus effects on prominence, not taking into account the role of focus in evoking alternatives. Finally, a few previous studies are discussed which provide evidence that focus alters the representation of informational-structural alternatives.


Focus particles Prosodic focus Alternative semantics Contrast Focus structure Language processing 


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© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole Gotzner
    • 1
  1. 1.Humboldt UniversityBerlinGermany

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