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Prominence in Pragmatics

Workshop organized as part of the 48th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea (SLE) in Leiden, Netherlands, September 2-5, 2015.

Organizers:  Klaus von Heusinger (Cologne), Petra B. Schumacher (Cologne) & Ken Turner (Brighton)


Text-level prominence has recently become a central issue in characterizing anaphora, coherence relations, implicature, and perspective. Even though prominence is used to account for various phenomena in these areas, a precise characterization needs further investigation.

We assume that prominence is a structural notion of discourse organization reflecting relations between individuals, events, etc.The most well-studied domain in this respect is reference to individuals. In this workshop, we will discuss the following closely related questions with regard to prominence in pragmatics:

How is prominence realized? Prominence can be expressed by different linguistic means, e.g. prosody, word order, discourse structure. How are these markers used by interlocutors? And how do they interact with each other?

How is referential prominence expressed? Regarding text-level prominence, different aspects may engage in the management of referents. Most notably, variation in the realization of referential form has been discussed as an indication of prominence (covert, pronoun, full DP). Moreover, the referent’s role in discourse structure (e.g. topicality, question under discussion) may affect referential prominence. From the perspective of multi-sentence structures, referential chain-building can be considered a core mechanism of managing prominence. In this respect, different kinds of prominence have been proposed depending for instance on locality or for pronoun production and comprehension.

What is the contribution of discourse structure to prominence? Background and foreground information as well as coherence relations have been used to characterize elements in the discourse structure. Free indirect discourse may provide further insights into prominence in discourse.



Klaus von Heusinger, Cologne, Petra B. Schumacher, Cologne & Ken Turner, Brighton: Prominence in pragmatics: A short introduction [slides]

Aria Adli, Cologne: Double topic chains and null subjects in Spanish

Mira Ariel, Tel Aviv: Revisiting the typology of conversational implicatures [slides]

Regine Eckhardt, Konstanz & Stefan Hinterwimmer, Cologne: Prominent protagonists [slides]

Bart Geurts, Nijmegen: General salience [slides]

Katharina Haude, Cologne: "Inherent” vs. “induced” referential prominence in Movima [slides]

Hans Kamp, Stuttgart / Austin: The dictatorial prominence of openers [slides]

Andrew Kehler, UC San Diego: Prominence and coherence in a Bayesian Theory of pronoun interpretation [slides]

Peter Pagin, Stockholm: Enrichment, coherence and discourse structure [slides]

Alice ter Meulen, Geneva: Presupposed and asserted content in aspectual DPs [slides]