Grammar at an interface: Syntax and information structure




Utterances in natural language are partitioned into topic and comment (focus). How much, if at all, does this partition of information interface with the syntactic structure of a clause? This course addresses the interface between syntax and information structure looking at information structure from the vantage point of syntax. On this approach, the crucial goal is reductionist, seeking to understand what information structural effects play a role at the interface and are therefore necessary and sufficient. We will discuss and analyze judgment types (thetic, categorical) and major categories of information structure (topic, focus, d-linking) in relation to discourse reference and clause structure, and will survey the encoding of these notions across languages. We will evaluate main theories of the information structure and identify ensuing unresolved questions for syntactic theory.