Information Structure, Discourse Structure and Grammatical Structure
  • ISSN 0774-5141
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9676
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Adverbials are well-known to form a rather heterogeneous class in multiple respects. Here we examine their ability to bear focus and their ability to be embedded in subordinate sentences. For focusability, the distinction between informational focus and contrastive focus proves to play a role. We discern six main classes of adverbials, identified by their base position. As expected, not all classes (or subclasses) can bear (informational or contrastive) focus, and also not all (sub)classes can be embedded. Among those that can, it is still only a proper subset that may simultaneously be embedded and focused. A general finding is that the lower in the syntactic tree an adverbial is base-generated, the more likely it allows for focusing as well as for embedding. The distinction between proposition-internal and proposition-external adverbs is shown to be helpful in determining which adverbials may bear (informational) focus. Also certain extrinsic factors like the type of the embedding verb or the general context are discussed that influence focusability and/or embeddability. An analysis is given in presuppositional discourse representation theory that can account for our observations.


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