This chapter gives an analysis in the framework of Bidirectional Optimality Theory (BiOT) of the relationship between nuclear accent and focus. Nuclear accent is a pitch accent that occurs near the end of an intonational phrase. Optimality Theory ( OT) makes use of a limited number of soft constraints (violable principles) ranked according to their relative strength. Optimal solutions are searched along two dimensions: (i) the dimension of the speaker who compares different prosodic forms for one and the same focal structure to be communicated; and (ii) the dimension of the hearer who compares different focus interpretations for a given prosodic form. The chapter analyses a number of illustrations of optimisation procedures involving the choice of nuclear accent/focus pairs for a given context. The constraints illustrate the interaction between syntax, semantics and pragmatics in determining the placement of accent within focus constructions.
that unmarked forms receive unmarked interpretations has been formalized in Bidirectional OptimalityTheory (e.g. Blutner 1998, 2000) and also received a Game Theoretical account (e.g. Dekker and van Rooy 2000; van Rooy 2004).
Since bare forms are unmarked, we expect their meaning to be
difference entails that, in English, BPs can refer to kinds but definite plurals cannot, while in Romance, definite plurals can refer to kinds but BPs cannot. An interesting way to characterize this distinction has been proposed by Farkas and de Swart (2007), using the notions of OptimalityTheory.