|Title:||The English It-Cleft Construction: A role and reference grammar analysis||Add Dissertation|
|Author:||Emma Pavey||Update Dissertation|
|Email:||click here to access email|
|Institution:||University of Sussex, Department of Linguistics|
|Linguistic Subfield(s):||Pragmatics; Semantics; Syntax;|
|Abstract:||This dissertation gives a detailed examination of the it-cleft construction in English and proposes an analysis within a Role and Reference Grammar framework that links the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic characteristics of the construction. I argue that the specificational it-cleft construction, a bi-clausal syntactic structure with a largely unambiguous focus structure, can only be understood through examining the interaction of syntax, semantics and information structure that it entails. The non-derivational, integrated approach offered through Role and Reference Grammar provides a way of explaining and describing familial similarities between it-cleft constructions and other constructions without complex derivational processes. The analysis therefore enables a close and revealing comparison between the it-cleft and other cleft constructions (such as there-clefts and pseudoclefts), other copular sentences, and relative clause constructions.
The first four chapters of the dissertation constitute the foundational basis for the analytical chapters that follow. Chapter 2 provides a detailed description of key features of the it-cleft construction as a type of cleft construction and as a type of specificational copular construction. Chapter 3 critically examines current literature and previous studies concerning the it-cleft construction from a variety of theoretical perspectives and highlights key issues that arise. Chapter 4 gives an overview of all aspects of Role and Reference Grammar theory. Chapter 5 discusses the nature and function of the constituents of the it-cleft construction and the interaction between them in detail. This is done from a theory-neutral perspective, offering new insights into the characterization of these features, particularly in terms of the issues
that arise from the literature review. The it-cleft is analysed alongside other specificational constructions and relative clause constructions. These insights are then framed in Role and Reference Grammar terms in chapter 6, the analysis providing a clear and explanatory account of the construction. I also return to issues such as reflexivisation and the interaction of negation and information structure. Finally, chapter 7 contains a brief discussion on approaches to cross-linguistic comparison of the it-cleft construction.