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  • Author: Katalin Ě. Kiss x
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Abstract

In every sentence type describing a particular type of event, there is a designated argument functioning as the default information focus. In the case of sentences expressing a change of state, this argument is the theme undergoing the change of state. In the case of sentences describing a change of location, this argument is the terminus, denoting the end-location of the moving theme. In stative sentences indicating the existence or spatial configuration of an individual at a particular location, this argument is the location argument, whereas in sentences expressing a mental or physical state, this argument can be either the theme or the experiencer. In the case of unergative predicates, describing the activity of an agent, the default information focus is not an argument, but the verb. A designated argument can represent the information focus irrespective of whether its referent is newly introduced or given in the discourse. If the designated argument conveys known information, that is, if it is [+referential] and [+specific], it satisfies the criteria of topicalizability; nevertheless, it can only be topicalized if another constituent assumes the role of information focus. An argument other than the designated one can function as the information focus only if it introduces a new discourse referent (i.e. if it is indefinite), or if it identifies a referent from among a set of alternatives, while excluding the other members of the set (i.e. if it occupies the preverbal identificational focus position). A verb can assume the role of information focus in an indirect way, by the contrastive topicalization of an argument (which also implies the contrasting of the verb with its negated counterpart).