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postgraduate thesis: The syntax and semantics of focus : evidence from Dagaare

TitleThe syntax and semantics of focus : evidence from Dagaare
Authors
Issue Date2014
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Sakurai, K. [櫻井和裕]. (2014). The syntax and semantics of focus : evidence from Dagaare. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5317015
AbstractThis thesis examines the conceptions of focus and information structure from syntactic and semantic perspectives using data from Dagaare, a Mabia language spoken in Ghana and neighbouring Burkina Faso (Bodomo 1997b; 2000). While focus is often analysed in terms of its prosodic and discourse features cross-linguistically, this study demonstrates how Dagaare focus particles illustrate the marking of what Lambrecht (1994) terms focus categories, viz. sentence focus, argument focus, and predicate focus. The focus particle la - a positive counterpart to the negative ba - is of particular interest in this study; I show that (i) its presence implies that Dagaare verbs lack inherent polarity, that (ii) it is the only particle which can mark all three of Lambrecht's focus categories, and that (iii) it has a special distribution based on semantic and syntactic concerns. That Dagaare focus particles mark each of these three focus categories is a catalyst for their extended integration into the syntactic and semantic analysis and representation of focus and information structure, using the lexical-functional grammar (LFG) framework (Kaplan and Bresnan 1982; Bresnan 2001; Dalrymple 2001). Within LFG, the notion of focus categories, supported by the Dagaare data, reveal that i-structure (Andreasson 2007; Dalrymple and Nikolaeva 2011) can be expanded to accommodate the inclusion of focus category-specific attributes (viz. SFOCUS, AFOCUS, and PFOCUS) which contain operator and domain features for focus particles. I then use glue semantics (LFG+glue) (Andrews 2010c; Asudeh 2012) to demonstrate the combinatorial principles of focus particles in Dagaare, ultimately showing how the meanings and domains of focus particles in each category can be conceptualised as processes of resource consumption; in addition, LFG+glue - using event semantics - provides a clear account of the lack of inherent verb polarity in Dagaare which necessitates the presence of sentence focus particles such as la. Following integration into LFG and LFG+glue, optimality theoretic (OT-) LFG (Bresnan 1998; Kuhn 2003) analysis provides a syntactic and semantic constraint set which accounts for the distribution of focus particles in Dagaare; in doing so, I also provide an updated conception of the input in OT-LFG, partially based on the idea of a split lexicon (Andrews 2005a), which allows for more adequate underspecification of input structures, including f-structure and i-structure, without losing the ability to rule out ungrammatical candidates. These analyses show that focus and information structure - and the notion of focus categories - can be easily integrated into the LFG framework and the related approaches of LFG+glue and OT-LFG. In doing so, it is hoped that this study will garner further interest in (i) the representation of focus and i-structure, (ii) the combinatorial semantics of focus particles, and (iii) further work on Mabia and other West African languages which contain such focus particles for the purpose of typological and theoretical comparison.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectDagaare language - Sematics
Dagaare language - Syntax
Dept/ProgramLinguistics
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/219928

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorSakurai, Kazuhiro-
dc.contributor.author櫻井和裕-
dc.date.accessioned2015-10-02T23:16:29Z-
dc.date.available2015-10-02T23:16:29Z-
dc.date.issued2014-
dc.identifier.citationSakurai, K. [櫻井和裕]. (2014). The syntax and semantics of focus : evidence from Dagaare. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5317015-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/219928-
dc.description.abstractThis thesis examines the conceptions of focus and information structure from syntactic and semantic perspectives using data from Dagaare, a Mabia language spoken in Ghana and neighbouring Burkina Faso (Bodomo 1997b; 2000). While focus is often analysed in terms of its prosodic and discourse features cross-linguistically, this study demonstrates how Dagaare focus particles illustrate the marking of what Lambrecht (1994) terms focus categories, viz. sentence focus, argument focus, and predicate focus. The focus particle la - a positive counterpart to the negative ba - is of particular interest in this study; I show that (i) its presence implies that Dagaare verbs lack inherent polarity, that (ii) it is the only particle which can mark all three of Lambrecht's focus categories, and that (iii) it has a special distribution based on semantic and syntactic concerns. That Dagaare focus particles mark each of these three focus categories is a catalyst for their extended integration into the syntactic and semantic analysis and representation of focus and information structure, using the lexical-functional grammar (LFG) framework (Kaplan and Bresnan 1982; Bresnan 2001; Dalrymple 2001). Within LFG, the notion of focus categories, supported by the Dagaare data, reveal that i-structure (Andreasson 2007; Dalrymple and Nikolaeva 2011) can be expanded to accommodate the inclusion of focus category-specific attributes (viz. SFOCUS, AFOCUS, and PFOCUS) which contain operator and domain features for focus particles. I then use glue semantics (LFG+glue) (Andrews 2010c; Asudeh 2012) to demonstrate the combinatorial principles of focus particles in Dagaare, ultimately showing how the meanings and domains of focus particles in each category can be conceptualised as processes of resource consumption; in addition, LFG+glue - using event semantics - provides a clear account of the lack of inherent verb polarity in Dagaare which necessitates the presence of sentence focus particles such as la. Following integration into LFG and LFG+glue, optimality theoretic (OT-) LFG (Bresnan 1998; Kuhn 2003) analysis provides a syntactic and semantic constraint set which accounts for the distribution of focus particles in Dagaare; in doing so, I also provide an updated conception of the input in OT-LFG, partially based on the idea of a split lexicon (Andrews 2005a), which allows for more adequate underspecification of input structures, including f-structure and i-structure, without losing the ability to rule out ungrammatical candidates. These analyses show that focus and information structure - and the notion of focus categories - can be easily integrated into the LFG framework and the related approaches of LFG+glue and OT-LFG. In doing so, it is hoped that this study will garner further interest in (i) the representation of focus and i-structure, (ii) the combinatorial semantics of focus particles, and (iii) further work on Mabia and other West African languages which contain such focus particles for the purpose of typological and theoretical comparison.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.subject.lcshDagaare language - Sematics-
dc.subject.lcshDagaare language - Syntax-
dc.titleThe syntax and semantics of focus : evidence from Dagaare-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5317015-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineLinguistics-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b5317015-

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