a1 Instituut Engels-Amerikaans, University of Nijmegen
Bolinger (1972) argued against the notion that the occurrence of sentence accents can be explained on the basis of syntactic structure, a position taken by, among others, Chomsky & Halle (1968) and Bresnan (1971, 1972), at least with regard to a (putative) corpus of sentences with ‘normal intonation’. Bolinger's chief argument against this ‘syntactic’ position was his richly supported observation that sentence accents function independently as markers of information content, and that therefore an approach that derives them from anything other than the intention of the speaker is misguided. In my own approach to the description of the position of sentence accents the view that sentence accents are the expression of the speaker's communicative intentions is fully endorsed. The issue in ‘Two views of accent’ (above, pp. 79–123) is no longer whether sentence accents are derived from syntax, but to what extent the particular word that a sentence accent is placed on is the unit on which these communicative intentions focus. For Bolinger the relation is direct: ‘accents mark individual words focused for their informativeness’, where ‘informativeness’ is subordinate to ‘interest’, which in turn shares with ‘power’ the assignment of accent. In his article, Bolinger criticises an alternative approach exemplified in Gussenhoven (1983) in which the relation is indirect.1 In this approach, which builds on work by Schmerling (1976), Ladd (1980) and others, the speaker is assumed to translate his communicative intensions into choices from a number of linguistic options, most importantly into a focus marking of the semantic constituents in his sentence (fragment). Sentence accent assignment rules translate these choices (again, mainly the focus marking) into sentence accents on particular words. I will adopt the term ‘highlighting’ for the former approach, and will refer to the latter as the ‘focus-to-accent’ approach.
(Received September 20 1984)