Volume 8, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1387-6759
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9897
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Despite increasingly numerous works dealing with issues of information structure from a cross-linguistic perspective, contrastive information structure analysis is not an established field of research yet. The paper aims at showing that it is worthwhile staking out and exploring such a field. Starting off from a brief reminder of what information structure is, as conceived of by Lambrecht (1994), the paper proposes guiding questions that contrastive information structure analysis should strive to answer. It then turns to the discussion of an example of contrastive analysis which involves the information structural category of identifiability. It is argued that the variable x in the English formula ‘as for x’ and the corresponding German formula was x {(an)betrifft / angeht} in sentence initial position can only be instantiated by expressions that have identifiable discourse referents. Results of a corpus-based comparison of expressions which instantiate x in these English and German formulas are presented. These results show contrasts between English and German in the lexicogrammatical expression of identifiable referents that go beyond the better-known differences in the use of the definite article. A methodological point to be made is that Lambrechtian categories of information structure (identifiability and activation of discourse referents, focus structure) may serve as tertia comparationis for the analysis of contrasts on the lexicogrammatical level.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): definiteness; English/German; identifiability; information structure
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