Cleft in Irish: On the typology of cleft and thetic sentences.

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2013. №5, 89-105

Abstract:

I attempt to demonstrate that in Irish, cleft can express any type of focus (as the latter is defi ned in [Krifka 2007]). This puts Irish in line with some Nakh-Daghestanian languages and apart from English and French where only certain types of focus can be expressed by a cleft structure, on one hand, and Breton and Middle Welsh where the clefted constituent can be not only focal but also an aboutness topic, on the other hand. In the second part of the paper, I focus on the thetic function of cleft and show that in Irish, cleft structure does not differ from the other morphosyntactic and prosodic means of expressing theticity from the point of view of pragmatics and information structure, and thus, one can hardly assume that there is a direct correspondence between the formal way to mark theticity and the pragmatic and informational value of the sentence (contra [Sasse 2006]).