Skip Navigation
UT wordmark
College of Liberal Arts wordmark
frenchitalian masthead frenchitalian masthead
David Birdsong, Chair 201 W 21ST STREET STOP B7600, HRH 2.114A, AUSTIN, TX 78712 • 512-471-5531

Fall 2005


Unique Days Time Location Instructor
35045 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
HRH 2.106C

Course Description

COURSE NUMBER MAY BE REPEATED FOR CREDIT WHEN THE TOPICS VARY. This course is an investigation in selected Romance languages of the relationship between the formal (syntactic and prosodic) structure of sentences and the discourse contexts in which sentences are used as units of information. The first part of the course will be an introduction to the information structure component of language. Using the theoretical framework of Lambrecht (1994), we will establish working definitions of the relevant theoretical concepts ('old and new information', 'definiteness', 'topic', 'focus', 'presupposition', etc). In the second part of the course we will apply the framework to discourse data from various Romance languages. In particular, we will be looking at certain frequently occurring deviations from the canonical (SVO) sentence type, such as subject-verb inversion, NP detachments, cleft constructions, etc. As much as possible, our analyses will be based on actual language data, in particular recorded conversations. The choice of languages to be covered in the course will depend on the interest of the participants. Prerequisites: first hand knowledge of at least one Romance language; reading knowledge of at least one other Romance language; at least one introductory course in syntax.

ASSIGNMENTS: Readings, a few homework assignments, one short paper, one oral presentation, and a term paper. (Possible paper topics include: the analysis of a particular grammatical construction in a chosen language, the contrastive analysis of a construction in two or more languages (e.g. inversion in Spanish, Italian, and French); the use of weak vs. strong pronouns; non-canonical sentence patterns and normative grammar, etc.)

Grading Policy

Homework assignments 20%, oral presentation and short paper 30%, term paper 50%. FINAL EXAM: No.


(i) Knud Lambrecht, Information structure and sentence form. Cambridge University Press, 1994 (paperback available); (ii) A reading packet to be made available through the Campus Copy Service.


bottom border