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Jill Robbins, Chair 150 W 21st Street, Stop B3700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4936

Fall 2005

POR 396K • Topics in Romance Linguistics: Syntax and Discourse

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
46080 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
HRH 2.106C

Course Description

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.

Grading Policy

COMPUTATION OF GRADE: Homework assignments 20%, oral presentation and short paper 30%, term paper 50%. No final exam.


(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.


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