Workshop “Prosody in Focus – Prominence Marking from Multiple Perspectives”

46th Annual Meeting of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft (DGfS) 2024

Coordinators: Alina Gregori ( & Corinna Langer (; Goethe University Frankfurt
Deadline for Abstract submission: 15.08.2023
Notification of acceptance until: 10.09.2023

This workshop aims to investigate the role of prosodic prominence in focus marking from multiple perspectives. Cross-linguistically, focus marking is an important function of prosody that has been studied extensively for numerous languages (see, e.g., Kügler & Calhoun 2020 for an overview). A higher level of pragmatic prominence (that is, a higher notion of contrast in focus, see Krifka 2008) is often marked by greater prosodic prominence. Exploring prosody at its interface with various linguistic domains, allows us to investigate prosodic focus marking in all modules of grammar (e.g., disambiguating syntactically ambiguous sentences or providing pragmatic discourse information).

In this workshop, we would like to look beyond what has been found on the general interaction between prosody and focus, and explore new perspectives on prosodic focus marking, for instance: (i) From a typological perspective, it is interesting whether different languages within/between language families use the same acoustic indicators to mark focus, including differences in the marking of focus domains (e.g., broad and narrow scope) and types of foci (e.g., contrastive vs. selective vs. informational). (ii) At the phonetics-phonology interface, the abstraction of continuous phonetic signals into prosodic categories associating with focus types is an ongoing topic for research. (iii) Prosodic focus marking can also add new information to complement syntactically/morphologically marked foci or offer a second, independent strategy. (iv) The marking of focus might not solely be performed by acoustic cues but also by visual cues resulting in multimodal marking of pragmatic prominence. Gestures have been claimed to a) cooccur with prosody (see, McNeill 1992) and b) make a pragmatic contribution to discourse. In what way and to what extent these observations are sensitive to focus marking is an objective in linguistic research and offers another new perspective to the topic of this workshop.

Thus, our workshop goals are to look at the relation between prosody and focus from different angles and to tackle the multifaceted interfaces of prosody with phonetics, syntax, pragmatics and visual communication in focus marking. We welcome contributions that offer a new perspective on the prosodic marking of focus: be it typological, from a signaling point, complementing syntactic/morphological marking, offering a multimodal approach or another perspective that sheds light on the use of prosody and its interaction with pragmatic prominence.

Abstracts should be anonymous and at most 2 pages in length, 12pt, examples and references included. Please send your abstracts electronically in PDF-format to and, and include your name, affiliation, and the title of the abstract in the body of the e-mail. The talks will be 20 minutes + 10 minutes discussion.

References: Krifka, Manfred. 2008. Basic notions of information structure. Acta Linguistica Hungarica 55(3). 243–276. • Kügler, F. & S. Calhoun. 2020. “Prosodic Encoding of Information Structure: A typological perspective”. In Gussenhoven, C. & A. Chen (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Language Prosody, pp. 453–467. Oxford: OUP. • McNeill, D. 1992. Hand and mind: What gestures reveal about thought. Chicago: UCP.

2 thoughts

  1. This looks like a wonderful workshop! I was wondering if this will be held mainly in English or German? As I noticed that it is part of the Annual Meeting of German Linguistics. Thank you very much!

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