SOME MAJOR ASPECTS OF THE FOCUS SYSTEM IN ISNAG (DEFINITENESS, MULTI-LEVEL ANALYSIS, HIERARCHY, SEMANTIC ROLES, PHILIPPINES)
This study attempts to specify how the syntactic form signals the semantic and pragmatic aspects of the focus system in the Isnag language. It specifies the correlation between the semantics and grammar of focus by proposing a ranking of the relevant semantic/participant roles called the Preferential Selection Hierarchy. This hierarchy constrains the positions the NP's can take in the clause and the co-occurrence of the NP's (i.e., which NP's may occur together in a clause).
With regard to the correlation between the pragmatics and the grammar of focus, this study discusses, (a) the COMMENT-TOPIC structure, which is the overarching force that affects the fronting to preverbal position of some NP's and (b) the categories of presupposed items, i.e., items that are given definite status and thereby become eligible for focus marking.
Unlike previous studies on the focus phenomenon, this study observes two focus markers with additional distinct functions, e.g., ya (equivalent of ang in Tagalog), and tu (equivalent of 'yong/iyong in Tagalog) particles.
It also observes that some affixes, particularly the agent and the goal focus affixes, function simultaneously as inflectional and derivational affixes. These affixes, when attached to certain classes of verbs, not only designate the role of the NP marked for focus but also change the meaning of the clause.
Overall, this study suggests a more global approach in investigating the focus phenomenon in some Philippine languages, i.e., studying focus from the viewpoint of grammar, semantics, and pragmatics.