The cleft pronoun and cleft clause in English

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In this paper I argue against both &#8216;specificational&#8217; and &#8216;expletive&#8217; analyses of English clefts. I provide new evidence that the cleft pronoun <i>it </i>is non-expletive, and that the cleft clause is interpreted as a discontinuous definite description with <i>it</i>, as under specificational analyses. On the other hand, I argue that specificational analyses are mistaken in positing a <i>syntactic</i> modification relationship between the cleft clause and <i>it</i>. Rather, the evidence shows that the cleft clause behaves in all relevant ways as if it is a syntactic modifier of the clefted XP. Keywords: cleft constructions; relative clauses; copular sentences; definite descriptions.


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