Chechen extraposition as an information ordering strategy

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Relative clauses in Chechen normally precede their heads, but corpus research shows that about 2% of them appear in an extraposed position. Scrutiny of these instances reveals that there is no link between extraposition of a relative clause and the pragmatic category (focus vs. topic) of the head. When it comes to restrictive relative clauses, which consist of two parts that only together allow for identification of the complex noun phrase’s referent, this study finds that the head can only occur in the focus position (immediately before the finite verb), and that it is often involved in contrast and comes with heightened emphasis. I interpret this as a result of the tension that is built-up due to the delay in identification. Keywords: Chechen; relative clause; extraposition; information structure


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