Volume 1, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2772-3720
  • E-ISSN: 2772-3739
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-clefts in English, their French and German counterparts and pre-verbal focus in Hungarian have been claimed to be semantically related constructions. For example, É. Kiss (1998) terms them and Destruel et al. (2015) coin them . Despite their similarities, these constructions also exhibit one major distributional difference: Clefts are usually no natural answers to overt -questions whereas pre-verbal focus in Hungarian constitutes the default question-answering strategy. In this paper, I show that it is possible to account for this difference within the Rational Speech Act model (Frank & Goodman 2012) without assuming any semantic differences between the structures. Thereby, I capitalize on the number of alternative constructions that could be used to answer overt -questions in the various languages under discussion and on a remarkable semantic property of the constructions under discussion that relates to the way they encode exhaustivity.


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