Workshop: Information Structure in Spoken Language Corpora 3 (ISSLaC 3)
Discourse and Information Structure
While most linguistic work in the past decades has routinely paid lip service to the fact that information packaging is a function of context and therefore rooted in discourse, information structure (IS) has rarely been studied as a discourse phenomenon sui generis. This lack of interest in the discourse roots of IS is a corollary of the strict top-bottom approach that has dominated the IS scene for decades. The categories are taken to be predefined and the role of the research is confined to the identification of the structures through which these purported categories are realised. On this view, the ways information is packaged over larger stretches of speech, its relation to intentionality of communication and the cognitive states of the interlocutors are irrelevant.
This workshop intends to look at IS from the opposite, bottom-up perspective. No a priori categories are assumed. Linguistically conveyed information can be structured so as to fit the assumptions about the hearer’s knowledge and attention, or it can be structured so as to render transparent rhetorical relations, or the current intentions of the speaker, or anything else that speakers consider relevant in communication, or a language happens to have grammaticalised. The task of the IS research is to trace down communicative and interpersonal factors that determine the decisions concerning the form in which the utterance is produced and deduce language-specific categories of IS from the identification of these factors.