|Author:||Matthew Reeve||Update Dissertation|
|Email:||click here to access email|
|Institution:||University of London, PhD Linguistics|
|Abstract:||The main argument of this thesis is that cleft constructions (and related constructions) in various languages do not easily submit to a strictly compositional analysis; that is, there is an apparent mismatch between their syntax and their semantics. I show that both 'specificational' and 'expletive' analysis of English clefts fail on both syntactic and
interpretative grounds, and propose an alternative analysis in which the cleft clause is a
syntactic modifier of the clefted XP, but a semantic modifier of the initial pronoun. I argue that the possibility for a relative clause to have two antecedents in this way is made possible by the existence of two separate licensing conditions, one thematic and one syntactic, which are normally satisfied by the same DP, but in clefts and related
constructions can be satisfied by distinct DPs. Next, I extend the analysis to clefts in Slavonic languages, particularly Russian. These constructions differ considerably from English clefts in their syntactic structure, but which show strong interpretative parallels with them. Finally, I show that certain types of cleft present another type of compositionality problem: namely, the problem of semantically relating the two DPs in specificational sentences, the class of sentences to which clefts belong. I argue that they involve a functional head encoding equative semantics, which 'associates' with the focus of the clause. The superficial 'non-compositionality' of clefts thus reduces to the superficial 'non-compositionality' of association with focus more generally.