Predication and specification in the syntax of cleft sentences

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This paper reviews the differences between predicational and specificational copular sentences in the realm of (pseudo-)cleft constructions, and proposes an analysis which treats the <i>it</i> of specificational <i>it</i>-clefts as a pro-predicate that inverts with its subject in the course of the syntactic derivation. In contrastive-focus <i>it</i>-clefts, the sentence-final relative clause is a right-dislocated headless relative dependent on a formal licensing relationship with the operator inside the relative clause and a content-licensing relationship with the focus. This dual licensing dependency explains the restrictions on the distribution of <i>which</i> as the relative clause operator in contrastive-focus <i>it</i>-clefts. Continuous-topic <i>it</i>-clefts are structurally assimilated to pseudorelative constructions, which accounts for the restrictions on the realisation of the left periphery of their relative clause. Keywords: it-cleft; predication; specification; headless relative; asyndetic specification


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