Focusing strategies in Old French and Old Irish
A central pragmatic function is “Focus” (the concept which the speaker thinks is of special importance), with the subfunctions “Contrast” (“X and not Y”), “Exhaustive listing” (“X and nothing/nobody else”) and Emphatic focus, which correspond to different pragmatic intentions of the speaker. In Old Irish, “Contrast” and “Exhaustive listing” are obligatorily marked, as it seems, by the cleft construction. In contrast the cleft construction is rarely attested in Old French, as there existed a free word accent, so focused elements could be highlighted either by prosodic means only or by word-order (sentence-initial position) + prosodic means. The growing frequency of the cleft construction in Middle French can be related to the coming into existence of the<i>mot phonétique</i>.<br />This contribution continues the approach of Wehr (1998) and (2001) in a historical perspective. The fact that the single word has no autonomy within the<i>chaîne parlée</i>is there made the basis for a Western-Atlantic<i>Sprachbund</i>comprising the Celtic languages, French and Portuguese.