Sie sind hier: HomepageTreffenjusla-12jusla-Meyer

Zur Fokus-Hintergrund-Gliederung in russischen ли-losen Entscheidungsfragen

Roland Meyer

While much is known about the information structure of Russian declaratives, interrogatives have not been analyzed in sufficient detail yet. The present article takes a closer look at ли-less main clause yes-no questions (YNQs), trying to integrate evidence gained from prosody and from possible answers. Experimental prosodic research shows that (i) there is no clear distinction between various contextual focus conditions in terms of pitch height or accent shape, and (ii) there is a distinct accent for YNQ mood, involving an extra-high peak delayed towards the end of the accented syllable or even further into the following syllable. The function of this accent, however, is rather to mark questionhood in a pragmatic sense than to mark the formal YNQ sentence type (which can be isolated by syntactic criteria). Possible answers suggest at least three focus variants of YNQs: (i) maximal focus with the accent on the finite verb, (ii) contrastive focus with the accent on the focused constituent, and (iii) maximal focus involving the prominence pattern of declarative clauses (accent on the clause-final constituent). It is argued that (iii) is actually a borderline case of (ii), involving contrast on a non-minimal constituent. (i) should be understood as a polarity focus. The analytic idea is that in Russian, the syntactic feature [+Q] acts like a focusing particle (only), obligatorily associating with a non-neutral focus.

Linguistische Beiträge zur Slavistik. XII. JungslavistInnen-Treffen Gießen 2003. Hg. Monika Wingender. München: Sagner 2005 (= Specimina Philologiae Slavicae 144), 109–133.