The topologic hypothesis of prominence as a cue to information structure in Italian

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The article proposes a strictly structural hypothesis on the marking of information structure (IS) by means of prosodic prominence, based on experimental data from spoken Italian. Main prominence can be conceived of in a “topological” way, where its location effects demarcation between different units, rather than their identification and culmination. This may suffice to explain much of the process by which speakers interpret the IS of utterances in discourse. In addition, actual utterances do not always express the distribution of Topic and Focus clearly. Acoustically, many remain underspecified in this respect. This is especially true for the distinction between Topic-Focus and Broad Focus, which often allows a certain degree of ambiguity.


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