Contrast in a QUD-based information-structure model

TitleContrast in a QUD-based information-structure model
Publication TypeChapitre d'ouvrage
Année de publication2024
AuthorsBrunetti, Lisa
Book TitleOn the place of contrast in information structure: definition, types, encoding and annotation.
EditionJorina Brysbaert & Karen Lahousse
Series VolumeTrends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs [TiLSM]

In this paper I look at contrastive focus and topic within the model of information-structure annotation proposed by Riester, Brunetti, and De Kuthy (2018), Riester (2019), Brunetti, De Kuthy, and Riester (2021), which is based on the notion of  ”Question under Discussion” or QUD (Roberts [1996] 2012, among many others). The model assumes that every utterance in a (oral or written) text is preceded by an implicit QUD, and proposes four principles that constrain the formulation of QUDs. One principle, Parallelism, accounts for two or more utterances answering the same QUD. Such a discourse configuration naturally provides the ground for contrast (Umbach 2004, 2005, Repp 2016); specifically, what is called Simple Parallelism accounts for occurrences of contrastive focus, while Complex Parallelism is relevant when two alternative sets are evoked, namely with contrastive topics. I analyze naturalistic data from spoken and written interviews in Italian and French, and see to what extent Parallelism and contrast co-occur. I also assume that utterances in a discourse that are in a contrastive discourse relation are instantiations of focus and topic alternatives. Partially following Repp (2016), I assume the following contrastive relations: similar, oppose, corr(rection) and concession, and make clear whatcontextual and semantic restrictions make these relations different. I also look at the interplay between these relations and Simple and Complex Parallelism. I eventually show cases where contrastive relations are not found with a Parallelism discourse configuration. This occurs when one alternative is implicit, when contrast is only linguistically marked on one alternative, and in several instances of the concession relation.