29 April 2020: Ingo Feldhausen (Frankfurt): “Focus, prosody, and word order: How new information is encoded in language and how one can investigate focus experimentally.”




In this talk, we deal with strategies for realizing focus in Spanish. While the main emphasis of the first part is rather theoretical in nature, we shift the emphasis in the second part onto methodological aspects for data gathering for studies on focus.

In the first part, we show how different syntactic and prosodic strategies fulfill the same information structural function. We also argue that dialectal variation must be taken into account as a decisive factor involved in the variation of focus realization strategies. These aspects challenge both theoretical accounts of Spanish focus realization and standard assumptions in experimental work on focus in Spanish.

In the second part, we present some of the methodologies used for investigating focus realization such as the Discourse Completion Task or picture-based short stories in greater detail. We will discuss the pros and cons of these methods and we present some ideas on how the methods can be strengthened. This will help students and young academics on how to decide between different methods.


Recommended literature:

Feldhausen, Ingo & Maria del Mar Vanrell (2014). „Prosody, Focus and Word Order in Catalan and Spanish: An Optimality Theoretic Approach“. Proceedings of the 10th International Seminar on Speech Production (ISSP), Köln (Germany), 122-125. (=> OpenAccess)

Feldhausen, Ingo & Maria del Mar Vanrell (2015). Oraciones hendidas y marcación del foco estrecho en español: una aproximación desde la Teoría de la Optimidad Estocástica. Revista Internacional de Lingüística Iberoamericana13(2): 39-60.

Vanrell, Maria del Mar, Ingo Feldhausen & Lluisa Astruc (2018). „The Discourse Completion Task: status quo and outlook“. In: Feldhausen, Ingo, Jan Fliessbach & Maria del Mar Vanrell (Eds.). Methods in prosody: A Romance language perspective [Studies in Laboratory Phonology (SILP)]. Berlin: Language Science Press, pp. 191-228. (=> OpenAccess)




Ingo Feldhausen is a postdoctoral researcher/lecturer in the Romance Department of Goethe-Universität Frankfurt (Germany). He obtained his habilitation (postdoctoral dissertation) in 2015 with a thesis on the intonation of left-dislocations in Spanish. He had previously worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Laboratoire de Phonétique et Phonologie(Paris 3) and the Laboratoire de Linguistique Formelle(Paris 7) in France. In 2008, he defended his Ph.D. thesis at the University of Potsdam (Germany) and published it as “Sentential Form and Prosodic Structure of Catalan” (2010) with John Benjamins Publishing. His research focuses on topics such as Language variation, Multilingualism, Prosodic phonology, Syntax, Information Structure, Phonology-Syntax interface, Subjunctives, Methods in Linguistics, and Didactics and L2 acquisition. In his research he combines empirical/ experimental research and theoretical explanation and he concentrates on Romance languages such as Spanish, French, Catalan, Italian, and Portuguese. In 2019, Ingo Feldhausen received the Frankfurt 1822 award for excellency in teaching.