Restricting the role of anaphoricity in focus

Vortragende(r) Roni Katzir
Institution(en) Tel Aviv University
Datum 05.02.2020
Uhrzeit 15:00 Uhr
Ort 4. Etage, Raum 403 (Seminarraum)


The placement of accent on elements in sentences interacts both with felicity -- so-called free focus (FF) -- and, in the presence of certain operators, with truth conditions and presuppositions -- so-called association with focus (AF). This interaction is often taken to be anaphoric: in FF, the focus alternatives of a sentence are required to have a contextually salient element or subset (Jackendoff 1972, Rooth 1992, Schwarzschild 1999); and in AF, focus alternatives are matched against an anaphoric element that determines domain restriction (Rooth 1992, von Fintel 1994).

My goal in this talk is to argue that the role of anaphoricity in focus is more limited than commonly thought. In FF, I discuss evidence that suggests that focus is more discriminating than under the theories of Rooth 1992 and Schwarzschild 1999 and that it targets questions rather than arbitrary discourse antecedents. Moreover, I use an extension of Wagner 2005’s ‘convertible’ paradigm to argue that FF depends not just on questions but also on the ability of sentences to answer them. For AF, I review evidence from the literature that challenges the idea that the effect of focus alternatives on domain restriction is ever anaphoric. Instead, I will suggest that some AF operators access focus alternatives directly, while others have their domain restriction constrained by focus indirectly but non-anaphorically.