Volume 53, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0035-3906
  • E-ISSN: 1600-0811
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The paper presents the definition of the TOPIC information unit within the Language into Act Theory (L-AcT) and the prosodic and informational criteria used for its recovery in spontaneous speech corpora: Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish and American English. The TOPIC develops the specific function of field of application of the illocutionary force accomplished by the COMMENT unit, it is performed through a prefix prosodic unit and precedes the Comment. The TOPIC must be coherent with the set of requirements determined by the illocutionary force of the Comment and adequate to the speaker-addressee relation. TOPIC mostly correlates in spoken corpora with NP and ADVP and must be functionally distinguished from “postponed Topic” (APPENDIX in the L-ACT framework). However, corpora also show a good percentage of modal expressions filling its prosodic and distributional conditions.


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Keyword(s): illocution; information function; prosody; speech; topic
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