Guest Lecture: It-Clefts in English: Syntax, Focus, Exhaustivity

PD Dr. Jutta Hartmann (IDS, Mannheim)

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016, 1:00 pm, Campus B3 1, Hörsaal III

In this talk, I present recent research on the syntax and focus analysis of it-cleft sentences. The main claims that I will present in this talk are: (i) Clefts are a subclass of specificational copular clauses and the syntax of cleft sentences is closely linked to their focus properties. (ii) It-clefts in English express contrasting focus (to be defined in the talk); (iii) Exhaustivity effects derive from the contrasting focus interpretation; (iv) As the contrasting focus interpretation depends on the selection (and accommodation) of alternatives in context, we find variation in the ‘strength’ of exhaustivity.

The first part of the talk will outline the general analysis and the claims (i) and (ii). The second part concentrates on experimental work concerning exhaustivity effects in it-clefts as compared to only-sentences and regular SVO sentences.

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