Discourse Markers, Particles, and Sentential Stress: Interaction on the Level of Information Structure in Russian

Lillian A. Parrott, University of Paris 8

Although the notion of "information structure" has only gained currency since the publication of Knud Lambrecht's book Information structure and sentence form in 1994, the types of structures that Lambrecht analyzes are anything but new to the Slavic linguist: questions such as word order permutations and intonation patterns have been widely studied by Slavists, mostly within frameworks based on theme-rheme distinctions or related notions. In my paper I propose to analyze the interaction of clause-level stress (mostly sentential stress: SS) and various discourse particles and markers in the structuring of information in Russian. SS reflects information structure in Russian in a relatively straightforward fashion, marking the newest or heaviest element (traditionally known as the "rheme"), a function that it shares to some extent with word order, whereas particles and discourse markers can have a strong attitudinal or emotive component, which reflects more complex workings on the level of cognition. (An interesting comparison can be made with English, where intonation tends to fulfill both roles.) The question arises: how does intonation interact with the particle (and discourse marker) system in Russian? In particular, to what extent is the insertion of a discourse marker or particle affected by SS (which corresponds to "focus" in many approaches; "topic stress" will also be taken into consideration)? Although stressed discourse markers do exist (depending on one's definition of a discourse marker), the particular particles or markers that will be examined here are unstressed or destressed, either because they are full-fledged clitics (e.g., zhe, ved', -ka), or because they are the unstressed (or destressed) members of stressed-unstressed pairs (e.g., "doublets" such as vt vs. vot [v_t], or stressed vs. unstressed vocatives). Because of their unstressed status, such particles and for SS, but they interact with SS in interesting ways. Some particles (e.g., -to, cf. Bonnot 1987) display a high degree of selectivity with regard to traditional thematic and rhematic considerations--and this is generally related to the particle's function, whereas other particles (e.g., modal. zhe, cf. Parrott 1997) are somewhat freer in this regard, although the choice of host may nevertheless be clearly constrained both prosodically (by the position of SS) and functionally. Purely prosodic issues will be addressed (e.g., what the prosodically possible positions for the insertion of particles or discourse markers are), in addition to functional issues (e.g., how the meanings of individual markers can interact with the meaning of focus stress). The framework that will be used is that of the Transactional Discourse Model (Yokoyama 1986), with some modifications, and the ways in which information structure is dealt with in this model will be outlined.