Universiteit Leiden

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Dissertation

On the nature of preverbal Focus in Greek. A theoretical and experimental approach

This thesis aims at contributing to our understanding of the semantic and prosodic properties of object foci in Greek, employing theoretical and experimental tools.

Author
Stella Gryllia
Date
20 January 2009
Links
Full text in Leiden University Repository

Since the early 1970s researchers have observed that focus has syntactic, semantic and prosodic aspects. The relation between prosodic realization, syntactic structure, interpretation and focus has not been uncontroversial and has caused much debate in the literature.

This thesis aims at contributing to our understanding of the semantic and prosodic properties of object foci in Greek, employing theoretical and experimental tools. The added value of such a combination is that we achieve a better understanding of the phenomenon under consideration. The main research question that is addressed in this dissertation is: do preverbal object foci in Greek differ from their postverbal counterparts?.

In the first part of the thesis, Greek preverbal object foci are compared to their postverbal counterparts with respect to exhaustivity, contrast and discourse topichood. For this purpose, a number of tests are applied to the Greek data. On the basis of the results of the tests, it is argued that preverbal and postverbal object foci do not differ with respect to exhaustivity and contrast.

It is also argued that the two differ with respect to discourse topichood. In this sense, it is shown that Greek preverbal object foci are actually fronted discourse topics. In the second part of the thesis, a production and two perception (one using natural stimuli and one using manipulated stimuli) experiments were carried out to investigate the phonetic properties of preverbal and postverbal object foci in Greek. Moreover, a production and a perception experiment were carried out to investigate the phonetic realization of contrast in Greek. 

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