Information structure and word-order variation


On June 22 and 23 2011 Prof Gregory Ward taught the seminar "Information structure and word-order variation".

CV details

Gregory Ward received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1985. He is currently Professor of Linguistics at Northwestern University, where he has taught since 1986. His primary research area is discourse/pragmatics, with specific interests in pragmatic theory, information structure, intonational meaning, and reference/anaphora. Recent publications have investigated deferred reference, event anaphora, functional compositionality, generalized conversational implicature and the semantics-pragmatics boundary. With Birner, he co-authored Information status and noncanonical word order in English(Benjamins, 1998). With Birner and Rodney Huddleston, he is co-author of the chapter "Information packaging" in The Cambridge grammar of the English language (Cambridge University Press, 2002). He is co-editor of Blackwell's The handbook of pragmatics(Blackwell 2004). Prof Ward also serves as a freelance linguistic consultant on legal issues relating to sentence and utterance interpretation.

Outline of the seminar

  1. Introduction and theoretical preliminaries. Information Structure (partitioning of information in a discourse into given – old, familiar – and new information). The 'Given-New Contract'. Communicative Dynamism. Topichood. Aspects of information structure: reference (choice of referring expression), cohesion (coherence relations), topic (discourse topic vs. sentence topic), focus (focus/presupposition, common ground), intonation/prosody.
  2. Word-order variation. Noncanonical Word Order. Argument Reversal: inversion (discourse-status and hearer-status of the constituents of inversion; is it discourse-status or hearer-status that is relevant?), preposing (subcategorized PPs vs. adjunct PPs, NPs, PPs, VPs, APs; types: focus preposing and topicalization), postposing, right/left-dislocation, wh/it/that-clefts related constructions: passives with by-phrases.
  3. A corpus-based analysis.
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