The relation between focus and theticity in the Tuu family

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The paper presents first results of the documentation of Tuu languages regarding information structure, based on the analysis of coherent texts, partly supplemented by elicitated utterances. Unmarked clauses display a fairly strict verb-medial structure; the clause-initial subject can be characterized as a conflation of topic function and agent role-complex and the material after it contains the assertive focus. Pragmatically more marked clauses display an initial nominal which is morphosyntactically set off from the rest of the sentence. These cleft-like constructions are typical for utterances involving contrastively focused items as well as constituent question words. At least in some languages, these structures are also associated with another pragmatic function, namely the expression of so-called entity-central thetic statements in the sense of Sasse (1987). This polyfunctionality of cleft-like sentences is motivated, because both of these functions need to expose a nominal: while it must be more salient than the predicate in the case of term focus, it must be “up-graded” from the status of topical predication base in the case of thetic utterances


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