Generative Linguistics in the Old World 34
April 28-30, 2011

Workshop on the phonological marking of focus and topic (program)
Wednesday, April 27 2011

Invited speakers: Daniel Büring (University of Vienna)
Elisabeth Selkirk (University of Massachusetts)
Michael Wagner (McGill University)

Organizer: Edwin Williams

The workshop will take the semantic notions of topic and focus as given, and investigate the systems for phonologically marking them, especially concentrating on variation in how the marking is done across languages. For example, we have the shiftable pitch-accents of Germanic languages vs. the relatively fixed prosodic structures of Romance; on a broader scale, we have languages like Japanese that do not use pitch-accents to mark focus, but nevertheless mark focus phonologically, through phrasing and varying pitch range. The following empirical and analytic questions are put forward as central to the project of the workshop:
  • Are there languages in which there is no prosodic reflex of contrastive focus or givenness?
  • How do those languages which encode focus and givenness prosodically differ in the phonological and phonetic tools to mark these notions?
  • Do phrasing and prominence go hand-in-hand, or are they two orthogonal dimensions that interact with focus and givenness marking independently?
  • Which comes first, focus or prominence; that is, is the mapping accent-to-focus or focus-to-accent?
  • Are differences in focus marking paralleled by differences in topic marking?
  • How does the marking of contrastive or''corrective'' focus/topic differ from neutral focus/topic across languages?
  • How do phonological means of marking topic or focus interact with syntactic and morphological means?
Comparative studies are especially encouraged, as well as studies of systems different from the well-known ones.

Call for papers
Abstracts must not exceed 2 pages in length (A4 or letter-sized). This includes data and references. Abstracts must have the following format: font not smaller than 12pt., single spacing, 1- inch/2,5-cm margins on all sides. Submissions must be in pdf-format. Submissions are limited to 2 papers per author (i.e., 2 papers for the entire GLOW including the workshops), only 1 of which may be single-authored. Nothing in the abstract, the title, or the name of the document should identify the author

All abstracts must be submitted via easy chair.

For questions regarding the workshop, please use the following e-mail address

deadline for submission: November 1, 2010
notification of acceptance: January 31, 2011
date of the workshop: April 27, 2011