Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

New from Oxford University Press!


It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

New from Cambridge University Press!


Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Book Information

Sun Image

Title: Finding Focus
Subtitle: A study of the historical development of focus in English
Written By: Erwin R. Komen
Series Title: LOT dissertation Series

This study reveals how two important focus articulations change over time in written English. Constituent focus, often accompanied by contrast, makes use of the clause-initial position in the oldest stages of English, but as this position comes to be used for the grammatical subject over time, the it-cleft construction is increasingly used for the expression of contrastive focus. There is no one-to-one mapping between contrastive focus and the it-cleft: the Old English it-cleft, on a par with modern Scandinavian counterparts, mostly functions as a text-organization device, and a synchronic study of Chechen shows that it uses the it-cleft exclusively for text-organization, while focus is indicated by word order and wh-clefts. Presentational focus, which is used where the main objective of a sentence is the introduction of a new participant, prefers to have this participant after the finite verb, but the strategy to achieve this goal changes over time: the word order flexibility of Old English allows new major participants to appear as subjects after the finite verb, but the growing demand of having grammatical subjects appear before the finite verb results in the use of an expletive strategy in late Modern English: the expletive is before the finite verb, while the logical subject follows it. The study on the change in focus realizations makes heavy use of texts that are enriched with referential information: the referential status of each noun phrase, and a pointer to an antecedent if a noun phrase is anaphoric. The success in using this information in order to determine focus domains leads to an important hypothesis, which says that focus is compositional in nature: focus articulations can be derived by combining syntactic and referential information. Further work should explore this claim in more detail.

Publication Year: 2013
Publisher: Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics / Landelijke (LOT)
Review: Not available for review. If you would like to review a book on The LINGUIST List, please login to view the AFR list.
BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
Subject Language(s): English
Issue: All announcements sent out by The LINGUIST List are emailed to our subscribers and archived with the Library of Congress.
Click here to see the original emailed issue.

Format: Paperback
ISBN-13: 9789460931123
Prices: Europe EURO 27.84