On the obligatoriness of focus marking

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Based on new evidence, the paper describes the different strategies that are used to mark focus in Tar B’arma, a Nilo-Saharan language. The paper also addresses the question which factors determine the preference for one or another means to express focus. It explores conditions like the type of the focused phrase c(subject vs. non-subject focus) or the semantic interpretation of focus itself (presentational vs. contrastive focus), which are known to have an impact on the formal realisation of focus cross-linguistically. While the latter condition turns out to have no effect on focus marking in Tar B’arma, question-answer congruence mentioned in the typological literature is established as a factor ­influencing focus marking in an African language for the first time.


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