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Focus as a grammatical notion: A case study in autism

Szendroi, K; (2010) Focus as a grammatical notion: A case study in autism. In: The Sound Patterns of Syntax. Oxford Scholarship Online: Oxford, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

Proper identification of the focus of an utterance is essential for discourse to proceed adequately. But how does the hearer identify the focus intended by the speaker? It is well-known that the focal constituent carries prosodic prominence, usually pitch accent. The question at the heart of this paper is how the hearer associates such accents with the notion focus. Is there a deductive step involved or is this an automated, grammatical process. I investigate the issue from a psycholinguistic perspective. In particular, I carried out a case study with an autistic speaker. I argue that given the general communicative breakdown associated with autism, the fact that this speaker uses focus adequately shows that focus is more than a domaingeneral communicative device. It must be a notion encoded in the grammar. If correct, such psycholinguistic evidence helps solidify the foundations of theoretical linguistic notions such as focus.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Focus as a grammatical notion: A case study in autism
ISBN-13: 9780199556861
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199556861.003.0015
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199556861...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: focus, autism, communicative device, grammar, modularity
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Linguistics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10124681
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