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C06 - Prominence in subordinating rhetorical relations

What is subordination in discourse? First and foremost, it is a way to reduce the prominence of certain text spans, sentences or clauses, so they do not distract from the more central parts of the text. Subordinate material is intended to only make a local contribution to discourse. It holds the status of discourse topic for a limited time and always implies a possibility to return to the main topic of the discourse.

The project develops a formal discourse-semantic model that focusses on describing the aspects of discourse prominence related to the hierarchical structure of discourse created by subordination. Our concept of discourse structure is based on the notion of rhetorical relations – the functions of utterances in discourse in relation to one another, such as Elaboration, Explanation, Narration, Contrast, Parallel, etc. Our specific goal is to explain why certain rhetorical relations, such as Elaboration and Explanation, tend to establish subordination and lead to the relative reduction of the prominence of subordinate material, while others, e.g. Contrast and Narration, usually function as coordinating relations.

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Dr. Katja Jasinskaja

Principal Investigator C06

Office: SFB, Luxemburger Str. 299, room 4.08
E-mail: katja.jasinskaja(at)
Phone: (+49) 221 470-89922
Web: Dr. Katja Jasinskaja


Frank Zickenheiner

Doctoral student C06

Office: SFB, Luxemburger Str. 299, room 4.09
E-mail: frank.zickenheiner(at)
Phone: (+49) 221 470-89921
Web: Frank Zickenheiner


Viktoria Mettelsiefen

Student assistant C06

Office: SFB, Luxemburger Str. 299, room 4.08
E-mail: vmettels(at)
Phone: (+49) 221 470-89921