This book contains a collection of papers exploring the cross-linguistic expression of topic and focus. A diverse set of perspectives from some of the leading scholars in the areas of semantics and intonation are represented in the collection, which is based on papers presented at the Topic and Focus Workshop at the 2001 LSA Summer Institute in Santa Barbara. This book is unique in the breadth of its typological coverage of topic and focus phenomena. Material is presented from nine languages, including several that are severely under-documented from a theoretical perspective.
The expression of topic and focus are integral aspects of linguistic communication that introduce the content of discourse and emphasize its most crucial elements. Topic and focus phenomena are complex and involve both a meaning and a prosodic component. This book is the first collection of papers devoted to the rigorous examination of both semantic and intonational features of topic and focus from a broad typological perspective.