Volume 44, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0378-4177
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9978
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Focus and newness are distinct features. The fact that subconstituents of focus can be given or discourse-old has been pointed out in Selkirk (1984) and Lambrecht (1994). Nevertheless, when it comes to Sentence Focus, it is still common to equate Focus with newness, and to treat SF sentences as necessarily all-new. One of the reasons for such bias is that formally or typologically oriented descriptions of SF tend to analyze only intransitive ‘out of the blue’ SF utterances stemming from elicitation. Based on SF utterances in natural speech in Kakabe, a Western Mande language, the present study shows that in natural speech SF utterances are associated with a rich array of discourse strategies. Accordingly, the discourse properties of the referents inside SF are subject to variation and affect the implementation of the focus-marking. The study also shows how the discourse properties of referents define the distribution of the focus marker in Kakabe.


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Keyword(s): givenness; inferential; sentence focus; subject; topicality
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