Focus Structure in Biblical Hebrew: A Study of Word Order and Information Structure with Special Reference to Deuteronomy.

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Shimasaki, Katsuomi
  • Subject: BS

This thesis examines the word order of Biblical Hebrew from the perspective of Information\ud Structure, specifically in the articulation of a theory of focus structure. To focus is to mark\ud an item as informationally prominent. The thesis proposes that\ud 1) in Biblical Hebrew focus is expressed by word order and by pitch prominence;\ud 2) the clause-initial position is marked for focus for both nominal and verbal clauses;\ud 3) and Biblical Hebrew has three major clause types:\ud (P represents predicate including verb; X represents an argument, a cover-ten-n for\ud non-predicate elements. Capitals mark. focus indicated by word order and/or high\ud pitch. )\ud a) Px Predicate-Focus Structure adds new information preferably to an active or\ud accessible referent( commenting);\ud b) Xp Argument-Focus Structure relates X with the missing argument of a\ud presupposed proposition (identification);\ud c) XP Clause-Focus Structure indicates that the clause has pragmatic implication(s)\ud other than commenting and identification. These implications include\ud (information level): activation of inactive referents; introduction of a brand-new\ud referent;\ud (inter-clausal level): exclamation/proclamation, contrast of the whole proposition,\ud circumstantial clause;\ud (text-unit level): onset functions, background information, climax and closure; and\ud finally parallel construction and list structure.\ud Most of these implications show non-sequentiality to or independence of the\ud preceding texts informationally, temporally or logically.\ud The thesis also explores the relationship between emphasis, intensification (loud voice),\ud contrast, focus and word order. Emphasis is achieved through various means which include\ud intensification (loud voice) and implicit contrast. Contrast is created not by fronting but only\ud by the presence of the contrastive members (either explicit or implicit). Contrast belongs to\ud contextual implicatures not to syntax. Intensification belongs to prosody not to syntax. Only\ud focused constituents are contrasted or intensified. Detection of intensification (loud voice) in\ud written texts is highly subjective.
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