The role of the copula in the diachronic development of focus constructions 
in Portuguese

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Old and Classic Portuguese had two positions for contrastive focus: one at the sentence initial position, followed by the verb, a &#8216;V2&#8217; sort of pattern (XPVS), and one at the sentence final position, constituting the Romance post-verbal subject (V(XP)S). This paper analyzes the role of the copula in the innovations that occurred in Modern Portuguese focus structures: (a) the expansion of cleft constructions, from <i>wh</i>-clefts to <i>that</i>-clefts, (b) from inverse clefts to canonical clefts and (c) the reduction of <i>that</i>-clefts, a grammaticalization that affected only Brazilian Portuguese (BP). In European Portuguese (EP), XPVS and V(XP)S survive together with modern clefts while in BP clefts and reduced clefts took over the old constructions completely.


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