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date: 24 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides an overview of experimental investigations on focus, how focus is cued and interpreted, and how the perception of focus affects other aspects of sentence or discourse comprehension. Early studies about the impact of focusing on attention and memory continue to inform current research; since that time, experimental findings related to focus have gone hand in hand with developments in theoretical semantics and pragmatics. This chapter covers some main strands of this body of experimental work, including the influence of focus on syntactic ambiguity resolution, focus as a cue to discourse structure, focus and pronoun resolution, the role of focus in referential disambiguation, the inference of focus alternatives, and cues to focus projection. The chapter concludes with some points to watch for in future research.

Keywords: alternatives, contrast sets, contrastive prosody, focus particles, ambiguity resolution, discourse structure, anaphora

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