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date: 26 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

We present approaches to the semantics and pragmatics of information structure which centre on Questions Under Discussion (QUDs). Questions, explicit or implicit, are seen as structuring discourse, and information structural marking is seen as reflecting that underlying discourse structure. Our presentation of the model is largely cast in terms of extensions of Roberts’s (2012b) analysis, which is itself related to Rooth’s (1985/1992) Alternative Semantics and Hamblin’s (1973) approach to the semantics of questions. We present the model in terms of a range of constraints that relate information structure to discourse structure, notably constraints on the ‘Relevance’ of utterances, on the ‘Congruence’ of answers to questions, and on the ‘Availability’ of discourse antecedents. We discuss the application of the approach to the interpretation of focus and some cases of contrastive topics, to discourse structure, to the interpretation of focus sensitive operators, and to certain cases of presupposition projection.

Keywords: at-issueness, availability, congruence, discourse structure, focus, focus sensitivity, Question Under Discussion (QUD), presupposition, relevance

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