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Schultze-Berndt, Eva and Simard, Candide (2012) 'Constraints on noun phrase discontinuity in an Australian language: The role of prosody and information structure.' Linguistics, 50 (5). pp. 1015-1058.

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Discontinuous noun phrases have posed a long-standing challenge for syntactic analysis. While there exists increasing evidence that discontinuous NPs are associated with specific information structure constellations crosslinguistically, Australian languages continue to be presented in the literature as radically non-configurational, with unlimited freedom of word order. We argue for Jaminjung, an Australian language of the Mirndi family, that once true NP discontinuity is carefully distinguished from other, superficially similar constructions, it is in fact highly constrained and can be described in terms of very specific information structure categories. The first of these, contrastive argument focus on an NP containing a given element, is widely attested crosslinguistically. The second, sentence focus, has only rarely been associated with noun phrase discontinuity in the literature. We show that the two types can be distinguished on prosodic grounds. Our account of both types challenges some previous analyses which rely on different information structure values for the parts of the discontinuous NP. The findings underscore the importance of taking into account prosodic information and discourse context in the syntactic analysis of spoken language.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of Linguistics
ISSN: 00243949
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2016 09:25

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