Stadt: Graz, Österreich

Frist: 2015-04-15

Beginn: 2015-09-25

Ende: 2015-09-26


A great number of formal linguistic means can be used to express the information structural partition between the focus and the background of a sentence. Under closer scrutiny, many of the formal means that are usually interpreted as encoding focus turn out to have other functions as well.
The aim of this workshop is to investigate the polyfunctionality of linguistic means associated with focus. We are especially interested in cases of polyfunctionality that go beyond the well-known cases where the same linguistic form is associated with focus and contrast or exhaustivity. For example, French clefts can serve to narrowly focus the clefted constituent, but also to create cohesion with the preceding context. Another example is particles which encode TAM functions, but also trigger a focus interpretation.

Topics to be addressed include (but are not limited to) the following issues:

  • Patterns of polyfunctionality
    Which are the additional functions expressed by linguistic means associated with focus? Are these functions part of the semantics of the respective linguistic means or the result of pragmatic inference? Are there recurring patterns of polyfunctionality?
  • Polyfunctionality and types of linguistic means
    Is there a relationship between different patterns of polyfunctionality and the formal types of linguistic means associated with focus? Are there patterns typically associated with a certain linguistic level to the exclusion of the others (e.g. with prosodic, but not with morphological or syntactic means)?
  • Polyfunctionality and the categorial status of focus
    In the literature on information structure there is an ongoing debate whether focus is an integral part of grammar or rather belongs to pragmatics. In this regard, the claim that focus is a universal linguistic category has recently been called into question.
    To what extent can the analysis of polyfunctional patterns contribute to this ongoing debate?
    Can polyfunctionality be considered as a counter-argument against focus as a (universal) linguistic category?
    Can, on the other hand, the one-to-one mapping between a linguistic form and a focus interpretation be considered as evidence for focus as a linguistic category in this specific language?

Call for papers
Deadline for abstract submission: April 15, 2015.
Notification of acceptance: June 1, 2015.

We invite submissions for 30 min talks (plus 10 min for discussion) on issues related to the polyfunctionality of linguistic means associated with focus (for further details see meeting description). Contributions on the interaction of focus with any linguistic level (syntax, prosody, semantics, morphology) are welcome. We are interested in cross-linguistic as well as in language specific research, from a synchronic or diachronic perspective. Abstracts must be anonymous and at most 2 pages in length including references and data in A4 or US letter format (12 pt Times New Roman, single-spaced). Abstracts should be submitted to [in the field “Abstract” as a plain text file AND in the field “Upload paper” as a PDF file (.pdf)].

A detailed thematic description of the workshop can be found at

Invited Speakers:
Manuel Leonetti (Universidad de Alcalá), Malte Zimmermann (Universität Potsdam)

Dina El Zarka, Anna Gazdik, Steffen Heidinger (Universität Graz)

Beitrag von: Steffen Heidinger

Redaktion: Reto Zöllner