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The paper puts forward a discourse-semantic account of the notoriously evasive phenomena of contrastivity and emphasis. Based on new evidence from Chadic, it is argued that occurrences of focus that are treated in terms of ‘contrastive focus’, ‘kontrast’ (Vallduví-Vilkuna 1998) or ‘identificational focus’ (É. Kiss 1998) in the literature should not be analyzed in familiar semantic terms as involving the introduction and subsequent exclusion of alternatives. Rather, an adequate analysis must take into account discourse-semantic notions like ‘hearer expectation’ or ‘discourse expectability’ of the focused content in a given discourse situation. The less expected the focus content is judged to be for the hearer, relative to the Common Ground, the more likely a speaker is to mark the focus constituent by means of special grammatical devices, thus giving rise to emphasis.

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