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Academic Paper


Title: The architecture of it-clefts
Author: Liliane Haegeman
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Ghent University
Author: André Meinunger
Institution: Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft
Author: Aleksandra Vercauteren
Institution: Ghent University
Linguistic Field: Syntax
Subject Language: English
Abstract: This paper examines quasi-monoclausal left-peripheral analyses of English it-clefts. Though attractive because such analyses bring out commonalities between it-clefts on the one hand and focus fronting and wh-questions on the other, the range of word order variations available in English it-clefts reveals that such monoclausal analyses of it-clefts lead to considerable complications of implementation, ultimately undoing the gain in terms of economy that initially would seem to justify them. In particular, we will show that, on closer inspection, the presumed focus fronting in it-clefts cannot be targeting the position deployed for ‘regular’ left-peripheral focus fronting. Moreover, both implementations of the monoclausal analysis discussed make the wrong predictions with respect to the distribution of it-clefts. In particular, as already argued by Hooper & Thompson (1973) and Emonds (1976), English it-clefting, unlike ‘regular’ focus fronting, is not a main clause phenomenon. Given these objections, we conclude that the left-peripheral analyses of it-clefts are ill-founded.

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This article appears IN Journal of Linguistics Vol. 50, Issue 2.

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