We are very happy to announce a talk in the meeting of the Syntax-semantics colloquium of IEAS, which will take place on Monday, May 6, 4 – 6 pm in IG 3.201.

Caroline Féry will present „A puzzle for verum focus“.


If verum focus is to be analyzed as a Roothian kind of focus, eliciting a set of alternatives and following the regular rules of sentence accent assignment (Höhle 1992, Goodhue 2018), a dialogue like the following one is problematic since the only new element in Sam’s sentence is the negation.

Micah: Where is everyone else?
Sam: There is noone else

However, the negation is not accented, instead the verb is accented (see Richter 1993 for a syntactic account of the unstressed status of the negation). In my talk, I will show that verum focus has a variety of additional interpretations (see Romero & Han 2004, Gutzmann & Castroviejo 2011, Lohnstein 2016, Samko 2017 among others) and I will introduce an additional one: counter-assertive vs. counter-presuppositional (Gussenhoven 1983). This phenomenon has been ignored so far in the literature on verum as far as I can tell: The counter-presuppositional interpretation of verum focus cancels a presupposition or a QUD at the same time as it introduces a verum focus. The behaviour of the pitch accent is only found in languages that have pitch accents at all.



You are cordially invited!