UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 12 (2000)

The relationship between accentuation and information status of discourse referents: A corpus-based study


This paper presents empirical results of the corpus-based study on the relationship between accentuation and referent information status. It was found that there is no one-to-one relationship between “new” vs. “given” information and presence vs. absence of accent. Contrary to the widely spread claim that “given” items appear to be deaccented, the results revealed that 79-89% of common nouns and 89-97% of proper nouns which had been previously introduced into the discourse surface as accented. Possible explanations for deaccenting “new” information and accenting “given” information are suggested.

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