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The case of focus

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Abstract

This article investigates the distribution of pronoun case forms (PCFs) in <i>it</i>-clefts and <i>it</i> BE-sentences in British and American English. Its particular interest is the occurrence of subject PCFs in these two constructions. Functional and pragmatic factors exerting an influence on the distribution are identified, such as first vs. third person, singular vs plural. All these factors are operationalized and quantified in the datasets. The findings confirm the hypothesis that subject PCFs have been re-functionalised as Focus markers in the two varieties examined. As the explanation of this refunctionalization, markedness reversal is put forward.

References

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