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Abstract

Abstract

This article studies the various uses of a Dutch thetic and sentence-focus construction, viz. the Syntactic Inversion with Filler Insertion Construction (henceforth: SIFIC), e.g. (‘There is a man walking across the street’). The article investigates whether theticity and sentence-focus are semantically encoded meanings of the SIFIC or pragmatically inferred senses. SIFIC tokens ( = 750) were extracted from the Dutch SoNaR Corpus and annotated for five factors. The analysis shows that the SIFIC can have information-structural uses that are diametrically opposed to theticity and sentence-focus, i.e. topic-comment structure, predicate-focus articulation and categorical judgment. It is argued that theticity and sentence-focus can therefore not be regarded as the encoded semantics of the SIFIC, but should rather be analyzed as default senses of the construction. Based on similar cross-linguistic findings the article takes issue with the assumption that most languages have dedicated thetic and sentence-focus constructions.

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2020-09-02
2020-09-26
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