Skip to main content
Skip to main menu Skip to spotlight region Skip to secondary region Skip to UGA region Skip to Tertiary region Skip to Quaternary region Skip to unit footer


Dr. Lena Borise presents "Focus Projection Need Not be Based on Pitch Accents: Evidence from Georgian"

Image of Lena Borise smiling wearing a light colored blouse

Please join us on Wednesday April 21 at 12:40PM EST for a discussion with Dr. Lena Borise, a Research Fellow at the Research Institute for Linguistics at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and a Departmental Associate in the Department of Linguistics at Harvard University, as she presents "Focus Projection Need Not be Based on Pitch Accents: Evidence from Georgian". To register for this webinar, please use the following link:

Focus projection is a phenomenon by which utterances with narrow focus on the direct object are realized in the same way as VP- or broad focus utterances, and so are the direct objects in these contexts. In English, this is because in all three cases the nuclear pitch accent is realized on the direct object (Selkirk 1984; Ladd 1996, a. o.). In contrast, in utterances with narrow focus on the subject, the subject carries the nuclear pitch accent, which is incompatible with broad-focus interpretation. Accordingly, narrowly focused subjects and those in broad focus contexts receive different prosodic realizations. Based on experimental evidence, I show that, in Georgian (Kartvelian), the prosodic realization of the respective elements – objects and subjects in different focus contexts – fits with the same generalizations, even though it is expressed with different prosodic means. Specifically, Georgian manipulates the distribution of boundary tones instead of pitch accents in order to create a focus projection-like pattern. These findings demonstrate that focus projection need not rely on the distribution of pitch accents, as is commonly thought, and is available even in languages whose prosodic organization is quite different from that of English.

Lena Borise is a Research Fellow at the Research Institute for Linguistics (Budapest, Hungary) and an Associate at the Department of Linguistics at Harvard University. Her work focuses on the acoustic manifestation of prosodic prominence, both on lexical and phrasal levels, and its phonological interpretation. She also works on issues surrounding the syntactic and prosodic realization of information structure. In her PhD dissertation (2019, Harvard University), she investigated the prosodic and syntactic properties of focus in Georgian (Kartvelian). She currently works on prosody, syntax of information structure, and syntax-prosody interface in several understudied languages, including Georgian, Iron Ossetic (Iranian), Udmurt, and Eastern Khanty (Uralic).

This presentation will take place on Zoom. Please contact Amy Smoler at to register for this event.


Support Linguistics at UGA

Your donations to the Department of Linguistics will support research and travel opportunities for students and faculty and other initiatives to enhance students' education in linguistics. Please consider joining other friends and alumni who have shown their support by making a gift to our fund. We greatly appreciate your contributions to the success of our programs!