On Friday March 23, Dr. Betty Birner from Northern Illinois University will be visiting the Linguistics Student Association to give her talk on Hearer Status and Inference in Discourse-Old Information. This special event will take place at 2PM until 3PM on SDSU campus in the Education and Business Administration building (EBA), room 445.
From Dr. Birner:
Hearer-Status and Inference in Discourse-Old Information
Prince 1981 introduced the concept of ‘inferrable’ information – that is, information that has not been explicitly evoked in the prior discourse but can be inferred from evoked information – and later research has confirmed the importance of this category for an account of information structure. In this talk I argue for a typology in which explicitly evoked information is a subtype of inferrable information, all inferrable information is ‘discourse-old’ in the sense of Prince 1992, and five distinct categories of inferrable information may be distinguished based on hearer-status and the type and directionality of the inference involved. The resulting typology is supported by naturally occurring data, and in particular by the distribution of various types of inferrable information in noncanonical syntactic constructions. Finally, I show how such noncanonical constructions can themselves serve to trigger the inferences that make it possible to process inferrable information in discourse.