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Information structure without topic and focus: Differential Object Marking in Burmese

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Differential Object Marking (DOM) in Burmese is usually analysed as directly related to the expression of information structure. Yet, this corpus-based study of DOM and the associated prosody finds that DOM is not based on information structure alone, but is also additionally motivated by discourse structure and content management. The suggested analysis proposes that DOM in Burmese provides a grammatical structure of information packaging: a system of separating information into units (packages) and establishing relations between them. Different configurations of packaging are employed to create an array of context-dependent interpretive effects related to information structure, discourse structure, and other factors. Hence, it is argued that information structure is not directly expressed in the language. Instead, it stems from an interpretation of the interplay between information packaging and various pragmatic-semantic factors, and is but one of the possible effects created by packaging.
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Keywords: Burmese; Differential Case Marking; Differential Object Marking; Information structure; Myanmar language; focus; pragmatics; topic

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2015

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