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Academic Paper

Title: Specificational sentences and the influence of information structure on (anti-)connectivity effects
Author: Karen Lahousse
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Institution: Université Catholique de Louvain
Linguistic Field: Semantics; Syntax
Subject Language: French
Abstract: This paper argues that the difference between connectivity and anti-connectivity effects in specificational copular sentences is heavily influenced by semantics and information structure. It shows that anti-connectivity effects with respect to binding disappear when the influence of information structure is neutralized, whereas anti-connectivity effects with respect to scope result from the semantics of specificational sentences. These data lead to the conclusion that anti-connectivity effects cannot be used as evidence against a syntax-based approach to specificational sentences and binding, that the analysis of specificational sentences should include both a syntactic and a semantic device, and that the syntactic analysis of specificational sentences should rely crucially on their information structure. I present and adopt Heycock & Kroch's (2002) analysis for specificational sentences, in which connectivity effects result from the assembling of ground and focus. The fact that connectivity effects are also exhibited by verb–object–subject word order in French and Spanish, which is marked for the ground-focus partition, is presented as an important piece of independent evidence in favor of this analysis.


This article appears IN Journal of Linguistics Vol. 45, Issue 1.

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