Information Structure in a Cross-Linguistic Perspective


The present volume draws together contributions from a number of scholars with an interest in empirical, cross-linguistic description. Most of the papers were first presented at the symposium Information Structure in a Cross-linguistic Perspective held in Oslo in November/December 2000. The descriptions are functionally oriented, and their common focus is how information structure – in a broad sense – can be compared across languages. 'Information structure' has been approached in a variety of ways by the authors, so as to give a broad picture of this fundamental principle of text production, involving the way in which a speaker/writer chooses to present a message in terms of given/new information, focus, cohesion, and point of view. Central to much of the research is the problem of establishing criteria for isolating linguistic constraints on language use from cultural-linguistic conventions in text production. The linguistic comparison includes English, German and/or one of the Scandinavian languages, with sidelights to other languages. Most of the papers are text- or corpus-based, and the ongoing work on parallel corpora in Scandinavia is reflected in several contributions.

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List of contributors and editors
Editor’s introduction
Thorstein Fretheim: Interpreting concessive adverbial markers in English and Norwegian discourse
Bengt Altenberg: Concessive connectors in English and Swedish
Bergljot Behrens and Cathrine Fabricius-Hansen: Connectives in contrast: A discourse semantic study of Elaboration based on corpus research
Carlota S. Smith: Perspective and point of view: Accounting for subjectivity
Raphael Salkie: Probability and necessity in English and German
Karin Aijmer: Modal adverbs of certainty and uncertainty in an English-Swedish perspective
Jeanette K. Gundel: Information structure and the use of cleft sentences in English and Norwegian
Geert-Jan M. Kruijff: Formulating a category of informativity
Valéria Molnár: Contrast - from a contrastive perspective
Jorunn Hetland: Accent and the notion of contrast: A cross-linguistic approach
Christiane von Stutterheim, Ralf Nüse and Jorge Murcia Serra: Cross-linguistic differences in the conceptualisation of events
Juliane House: Maintenance and convergence in covert translation English – German
Erich Steiner: Grammatical metaphor in translation – some methods for corpus-based investigation