Wiley
Wiley.com
Print this page Share
E-book

Sense and Sensitivity: How Focus Determines Meaning

ISBN: 978-1-4443-0133-5
328 pages
January 2009, Wiley-Blackwell
Sense and Sensitivity: How Focus Determines Meaning (1444301330) cover image
Sense and Sensitivity advances a novel research proposal in the nascent field of formal pragmatics, exploring in detail the semantics and pragmatics of focus in natural language discourse. The authors develop a new account of focus sensitivity, and show that what has hitherto been regarded as a uniform phenomenon in fact results from three different mechanisms. The book
  • Makes a major contribution to ongoing research in the area of focus sensitivity – a field exploring interactions between sound and meaning, specifically the dependency some words have on the effects of focus, such as "she only LIKES me" (i.e. nothing deeper) compared to "she only likes ME" (i.e. nobody else)
  • Discusses the features of the QFC theory (Quasi association, Free association, and Conventional association), a new account of focus implying a tripartite typology of focus-sensitive expressions
  • Presents novel cross-linguistic data on focus and focus sensitivity that will be relevant across a range of linguistic sub-fields: semantics and pragmatics, syntax, and intonational phonology
  • Concludes with a case study of exclusives (like “only”), arguing that the entire existing literature has missed crucial generalizations, and for the first time explaining the focus sensitivity of these expressions in terms of their meaning and discourse function
See More
1. Introduction.

2. Intonation and Meaning.

3. Three degrees of association.

4. Compositional analysis of focus.

5. Pragmatic Explanations of Focus.

6. Association with Reduced Material.

7. Extraction and Ellipsis.

8. Monotonicity and Presupposition.

9. Exclusives: facts and history.

10. Exclusives: a discourse account.

11. Conclusion

See More
David I. Beaver is Associate Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Presupposition and Assertion in Dynamic Semantics (2001); is co-editor of several books, including The Construction of Meaning (2002); has authored numerous articles for prestigious journals including Linguistics and Philosophy, and Language; is on the editorial team or board of all the three leading journals in semantics; and is co-founder of a new open access journal, Semantics and Pragmatics, supported by the Linguistic Society of America.

Brady Z. Clark is Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Northwestern University and a faculty member at the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems. He is co-editor (with Beaver, Casillas-Martínez, and Kaufmann) of The Construction of Meaning (2002). He has published in journals including Natural Language Semantics and Language, on topics ranging from semantics to historical syntax and tutorial dialogue systems.

See More
  • Makes a major contribution to ongoing research in the area of focus sensitivity – a field exploring interactions between sound and meaning, specifically the dependency some words have on the effects of focus, such as "she only LIKES me" (i.e. nothing deeper) compared to "she only likes ME" (i.e. nobody else)
  • Discusses the features of the QFC theory (Quasi association, Free association, and Conventional association), a new account of focus implying a tripartite typology of focus-sensitive expressions
  • Presents novel cross-linguistic data on focus and focus sensitivity that will be relevant across a range of linguistic sub-fields: semantics and pragmatics, syntax, and intonational phonology
  • Concludes with a case study of exclusives (like “only”), arguing that the entire existing literature has missed crucial generalizations, and for the first time explaining the focus sensitivity of these expressions in terms of their meaning and discourse function
See More






















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































“More than an assemblage of essays, Deborah Poole’s magisterial volume synthesizes the commitments, conundrums, and complicities that make up the long disciplinary history of Latin American anthropology. Revealing an imposing historical depth and analytical crispness, Poole’s A Companion to Latin American Anthropology brings together an impressive array of scholars of and from Latin America to illuminate the critical relationship between politics and scholarship, in a region that has been central to anthropology’s methodological and moral development.” Greg Grandin, New York University

"Move over, Austen--and Austin. Prodigiously comprehensive and engagingly presented, Beaver and Clark's rich and subtle study of focus is essential reading on intonational meaning, scalar particles, implicature, presupposition, polarity licensing, and alternative semantics. This is sensitivity training of the highest order."
Laurence Horn, Yale University

"Sense and Sensitivity merits a close reading by anyone interested in contemporary pragmatic theory. It is clearly written and accessible, and offers a carefully reasoned case for lexical sensitivity to focus. Beaver and Clark's thesis is sure to serve as a touchstone for further work on the subject."
Craige Roberts, Ohio State University

See More
Back to Top