Information Structuring and Speech Acts
Concepts of Information Structuring
Identify the underlined phrases as topic or comment and as given or new. Note if they are contrastive.
What I can’t stand is the noise of rock concerts.
Eric is the one who participated in the bike race.
It was in Spain that I was robbed.
At this intersection an accident occurred yesterday.
There is always too much food at wedding receptions.
The Chinese team reached the summit first, and then the British team did.
The sentence I was upset by the break-in at my office, has four possible positions for stress:
Í was upset by the break-in at my office.
I was úpset by the break-in at my office.
I was upset by the bréak-in at my office.
I was upset by the break-in at my óffice.
Explain how each differs in respect to contrast and topic/comment.
Identify the underlined phrase as definite or indefinite and as specific, nonspecific, or generic.
I found the book I was looking for.
I asked the librarian for the latest book on the topic.
I received an interesting book for my birthday.
I think that books are getting prohibitedly expensive.
I am reading about the history of the book.
I asked the librarian for a book about medieval heraldry.
topic, new, contrastive
comment, new, contrastive
The speaker as opposed to someone else is upset. The topic is someone's being upset about the break-in at his/her office.
The speaker is upset as opposed to pleased (or some other emotion). The topic is the speaker's feeling something about the break-in at his/her office.
The speaker is upset by the break-in as opposed to some other event. The topic is the speaker's being upset about something at the office.
The speaker is upset by the break-in at the office as opposed to at home. The topic is the speaker's being upset about the break-in somewhere. However, this is also neutral stress, and so the entire sentence may be the comment and new.