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C01 - Prominence and information structure

This project aims at a better understanding of the relation between prominence and information structure. Unlike bi-partite partitions in information structure such as topic/comment, focus/background, frame setter/main predication, prominence is a relational property that applies to elements of the same type and structure. Prominence plays an important role in organising the information in coherent discourse representations, but it is not clear how prominence relates to the specific type of packaging. First, we will investigate prominent syntactic positions (left and right periphery, clefts, postverbal subject position), and analyse their role as structural attractors for information-structural units. Assuming that syntactic positions establish a prominence relation (between more or less prominent ones), we will concentrate on sentences with non-canonical word order, comparing spontaneous speech data from several languages that show differences in these positions (viz. French, Spanish, Catalan, Persian). Building on a pilot study on corpus data and on the relevant literature, our assumption is that, on the surface, different information-structural functions can be realised in the same prominent position. We will analyse how this polyvalence can be modelled and how it is resolved in discourse.

See list of publications



Prof. Dr. Aria Adli

Principal Investigator C01, INF and Ö

Office: Philosophikum, room 2.314
E-mail: aria.adli(at)
Phone: (+49) 221 470-4448
Web: Prof. Dr. Aria Adli


Alessia Cassarà

Doctoral student C01

Office: SFB, Luxemburger Str. 299, room 2.03
E-mail: alessia.cassara(at)
Phone:(+49) 221 470-89912
Web: Alessia Cassarà


Eric Engel

Doctoral student, associated with C01

Office: Philosophikum, room 2.305
E-mail: eric.engel(at)
Phone: (+49) 221 470-7285
Web: Eric Engel