The morphosyntax of wolof clefts

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This paper examines the structure and derivation of cleft clauses in the Atlantic language Wolof, which possesses distinct clefts for subjects and nonsubjects. I argue that the clefts are based on two syntactically distinct copular constructions. In the subject cleft, the copula occurs with a TPstructure. In the nonsubject cleft, the copula occurs with a CPlike structure. In terms of derivation, I argue that Wolof clefts involve overt movement of the clefted constituent, not base generation. I show that Wolof clefts are islandsensitive using general and Wolofspecific tests. I then present evidence from a number of reconstruction tests that converge on the conclusion that clefted items in Wolof undergo A’movement. Keywords: A’- movement; wh-movement; reconstruction; copula; cleft; focus; left periphery; Niger-Congo; Atlantic


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