Germana Garassino (Italian Edition)

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  3. Frequency, Forms and Functions of Cleft Constructions in Romance and Germanic

There is however no interpretive difference between 5 and 7 Frison If the pronoun is in the accusative form, the agreement is normally not realized, as in 12 Metzeltin Moreover, the choice of the complementizer is not restricted to that, as in example 13 , but it also includes WH-forms, as in 14 , and a zero option or no-complementizer , as in 15 this last example is from the ICOCP corpus: For the purposes of this paper, I will now turn attention to some properties that concern the relationship among the syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of clefts.

The biclausal syntax has also another important consequence because the isolation of the clefted constituent whose referent is singled out as the value satisfying the variable results in its pragmatic highlighting. Another motivation for using Cleft sentences is that they allow the interpretation without ambiguity of the semantic scope of logical operators e.

According to Lambrecht On the contrary, the sentence in 18 presupposes that someone did not attend the party and John is identified as the one that did not come. In conclusion, the breaking of linear syntax into two parts is one the most distinctive features of Cleft sentences.

This cleaving also determines important consequences at the level of information structure as some of its relevant properties e. In the next section, I will explore the information structure properties of Cleft sentences and offer a classification of Italian and English occurrences. Information structure and Cleft sentences According to both prosodic and semantic-pragmatic criteria, Cleft sentences have traditionally been considered focalizing devices, as shown in examples 5 and 6: Kiss , the clefted constituent is claimed to be hosted in a special focus projection FocP in the syntax, where it receives an exclusive interpretation i.

In example [6], for instance, given a set of alternatives, only John among them attended the party.

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Consider the following examples: In all these cases, the referent of the clefted constituent does not evoke relevant alternatives. In example 21 , as a discourse starter, the prepositional phrase in does not contrast with other prepositional phrases, such as in , in or in , but instead creates a temporal setting. A similar observation applies to examples 23 and Since Prince , various proposals have countered the assumed monofunctionality of clefts. Prince first suggested a bipartition between canonical stressed-focus clefts i.

As I will show below, information can in fact be distributed in different ways between the clefted constituent and the cleft clause. Moreover, recent research found a correlation between different types of clefts e. See also below in this section and note In Roggia these constructions are kept apart from canonical Cleft sentences, while others e.

In my classification, I chose to include temporal clefts see section 4. Declerck considered the informative-presupposition type described by Prince too undifferentiated and put forward a further subclassification that depended on the information status of the clefted constituent. He thus proposed two new labels: According to Gundel and Hedberg, Cleft sentences can be divided into the following: Her classification displays three basic subtypes of clefts: In developing his taxonomy, he relies on the notions of focus and background and their distribution in the sentence.

By so doing, he distinguishes three main classes: Finally, Roggia puts forward a fine-grained taxonomy of Italian clefts primarily based on information status given, new, and inferable and, as a secondary criterion, the cognitive activation of referents in the discourse. The interplay of these two parameters results in a very detailed description of the data Roggia In summary, it is interesting to note that these proposals, although often founded on different theoretical grounds, are substantially similar in their results.

This fact strongly suggests that Cleft sentences are sensitive to distinct levels of information structure and that a truly comprehensive view of their information properties can be reached only if we consider these separate levels to interact. In the following pages, I will show that this choice is motivated by both empirical and theoretical factors. Regarding the basic terms of my analysis, I will use the following definitions. The given information label includes information that has been previously introduced in the discourse or that seem to show different syntactic as well as prosodic features.

These findings contribute to weakening the position of scholars who defend a unitary analysis of clefts, such as Lambrecht Quite interestingly, both Collins Relational givenness refers thus to other levels of information structure, i. Considering these parameters at the same time, it is possible to derive a basic taxonomy: Consider the following examples in Italian and English: The content of the cleft clause is given, while the clefted constituent conveys new information and is associated with focus. Within a set of contextually relevant alternatives, John is the selected one and is consequently pragmatically highlighted.

However, as we will see below, focus and new information do not always coincide. Furthermore, this subtype of clefts apparently violates a basic information principle according to which old information usually precedes new information. In a communicative 15 Given and inferable information are usually grouped together see Ward and Birner Please note that alternatives do not need to be introduced in the discourse see also section 4. For a more detailed and technical discussion see Zimmermann and Onea Consider the following examples in which we imagine somebody talking about the goals he achieved in a certain city.

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At some point in the conversation, the speaker adds that he also met his future wife in the same place: Consider for instance the following two examples: Le testate statunitensi si inseguono, la Knox campeggia su tutte le prime pagine. Cnn e Fox News. Please also note that the examples taken from newspapers are left unaltered: I chose nonetheless to discuss this occurrence because it perfectly represents the kind of problematic examples that I am going to examine. American newspapers run similar headlines.

In local newspapers in Seattle, the native city of Amanda Knox, the fellow citizen is the center of attention. The decision of the court of appeal of Perugia echoes in France, Spain, and Germany. So if you are at one of the party conferences, take a minute to pick up the Daily Stigma newspaper and read the full story behind the headlines. It exposes the truth behind benefit fraud — Amanda and the system are both foci, but they are not at all discourse-new information.

When the Cleft sentences in 34 and 35 are used, Amanda and the system are already discourse-given. In principle, if only the level of referential givenness were considered, it would be possible to make up another category for such examples, e. First, an all-given cleft would go against what has repeatedly been observed by many authors e.

These considerations suggest that referential givenness alone is not sufficient to capture the informational and functional properties of Cleft sentences. More specifically, the introduction of a cleft type that includes occurrences whose clefted constituent is both given and focalized is required. Another aspect is worth mentioning: A 21 As Delin and Oberlander claim: Was it she who revealed them, gradually; or was it I, as my senses and my body and my mind gradually came back to life, who noticed them, one by one, reassembling the parts into a whole?

We were in a cafe one morning, and she visibly tensed up. The information status of the cleft clause does not appear to be relevant but the subordinate must be associated wholly or partly with focus as well. Specifically, in my classification Type 1b includes occurrences with a given and focalized clefted constituent, instances of contrastive topics, and multiple foci constructions. In the light of these observations, a more refined version of Table 1 can now be proposed see also Korzen in this volume for a similar classification.

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The only difference is the inclusion of the dimension of referential givenness in my proposal: Consider the following example: Following this observation, it might be more accurate to introduce a further subtype of Type 1 for only multiple foci clefts. However, for the purposes of this paper and the empirical results in the corpus, I think this move is unnecessary here. On the one hand, as already shown, referential givenness could not be used alone to describe in detail the different informational classes i. Based on this classification, I will provide the result of a quantitative analysis conducted on occurrences I classified 97 of clefts in both Italian and English for a total of examples: A number of examples required very careful analysis and in almost every case a second or third rethinking.

I could not come to a decision concerning three examples in Italian and another three occurrences in English. Starting with the differences, Type 1a clefts or prototypical clefts focalizing devices with a new clefted constituent are the most represented occurrences in English, whereas the use of Type 1b is less frequent although still relevant. In this respect, Italian data shows the reverse of the English situation: In section 5, I will suggest some possible explanations concerning this quantitative difference.

The distribution of Type 2 and Type 3 clefts, on the contrary, is quite similar in the two languages, although Type 2 clefts are slightly more common in Italian. The distributions shown in Tables 3 and 4 are not very different from the picture offered by other quantitative studies see Roggia A direct, one-to-one comparison among these works is not an easy task because these classifications, although similar, do not overlap. However, by abstracting from the most idiosyncratic features of every analysis, it is possible to state that the larger diffusion of Types 1b and 2 in Italian is supported by the findings in Roggia In the previous section, I examined the information profiles of clefts; I will show how the differences in the information structure of clefts play a role in determining their discourse-pragmatic functions.

According to Roggia In Collins , Type 2 accounts for These functions are strictly dependent on the semantic properties of clefts as specificational copular structures and the role of the clefted constituent as a focus see section 2. Hence, as I showed above section 3 , a value for the variable contained in the cleft clause is provided, and this value is picked from a set of relevant alternatives.

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The highlighting of the clefted constituent is the result of focalization and refers to its pragmatic importance; the clefted constituent is, so to speak, put at the forefront of the message. However, highlighting does not require an explicit opposition within the text between the clefted constituent and other discourse referents in other words, focus does not necessarily express an explicit opposition between the selected value and relevant alternatives.

Le due piccole vittime sono state portate in ospedale, al momento non si conoscono le loro condizioni. The two little victims were brought to the hospital, but at the moment their conditions are unknown. It happened last evening at Somma Vesuviana, in the outskirts of Naples. It was the struggle of the indigenous Inuits to cope with extreme temperatures and shrinking ice that prompted thoughts of building an ice-making piece of art in the desert. American newspapers run similar headlines [ Screening is not like vaccination. If a cancer is missed, it is an individual who suffers, not the population as a whole.

However, what I want to point out here is the functional difference between cleft occurrences, which present an explicit opposition among alternatives in the discourse pragmatic contrast , and other cleft occurrences, which do not mere highlighting only. The following tables show the distribution of these functions in the data: Topic launching and contrast can also overlap as they belong to different levels.

Consider now the following example: The main difference is obviously that the Cleft sentence belongs to Type 1b, i. Therefore, the Cleft sentence in 44 launches as a topic a referent previously introduced in the discourse Mary-Kate Olsen and that has already served as a sentence topic, but was temporarily set aside in favor of another topic Ashley Olsen. I will thus refer to this function as topic relaunching. Tables 7 and 8 show that both functions are not at all common in the two languages: Total number of Cleft sentences carrying out topic launching and relaunching functions in English Topic Launching Topic Relaunching Type 1a 4 0 Type 1b 0 2 4.

Type 2 clefts The mapping of information structure onto the biclausal structure of Type 2 i. She said she did not want that but others did. Therefore the new piece of information can be easily accommodated by the hearer. The repatriation of social and employment laws will be for a later treaty negotiation. One line caused some irritation in London when Barroso had a pop at Britain: The speed of the European Union, and a fortiori of the euro area, cannot be the speed of its slowest member or its most reluctant member.

Barroso believes that Britain should hug him and Merkel close because a view is developing in Brussels that France is attempting to unravel two key British achievements over the last 20 years. The generic cohesive function of Type 2 clefts, which is recognized in the literature Berretta , ; Roggia ; Dufter Consider again examples 45 and In the following months, researchers will try to confirm the results of experiment Cngs 4 Cern Neutrino to Gran Sasso , which found that neutrins are about 60 nanoseconds faster than light.

Fermilab is one of two labs in the world that are fully equipped to do it. The other lab, in Japan, was hindered by the earthquake and tsunami of last March; therefore it is from here [i. As a woman, a mother and a wife, there are certain values and vows that I hold sacred, and it is in this spirit that I have chosen to move forward with my life. One line caused some irritation in London when Barroso [Topic] had a pop at Britain: Barroso[Topic] believes that Britain should hug him and Merkel close because a view is developing in Brussels that France is attempting to unravel two key British achievements over the last 20 years.

In 50 , the cleft allows the journalist a successful transition from a previous topic to a new one, i. Saranno il Capo dello Stato Giorgio Napolitano, sua moglie Clio e il Presidente del Consiglio Silvio Berlusconi ha [sic] rendere omaggio, con un breve saluto, a Benedetto XVI al termine della cerimonia, a nome della delegazione italiana. After the beatification and the saying of the Regina Coeli, the Pope[Topic] will receive the spokesmen of the official delegations [ Type 3 clefts 33 See Agar Marco in this volume for some considerations of Pseudo-cleft sentences and topic shifting.

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In addition to the cleft at the end of the quoted speech the Type 2 one that I have already discussed in section 4. However, such description does not consider that these constructions, as well as Type 2 clefts such as 45 and 46 , are probably undergoing a grammaticalization process that is turning them into textual connectors Berretta 34 or rhetorical devices used as discourse starters. Their evolving grammaticalized status is in fact accompanied by the loss of an alternative evoking function Roggia Type 3 includes other kinds of occurrences, such as Cleft sentences that provide a spatio- temporal setting.

The Italian data also showed temporal clefts section 3 that seem marginal, even pragmatically and grammatically odd, in English example [54] is the only occurrence found in the corpus: Why did it take you so long? In Switzerland it takes a very long time to do anything. It takes one step after another. And a big leap at the end. Because 34 Type 3 clefts seem more constrained than Type 2 ones because of their information status all-new , which in most cases favors their presence at the beginning of a text. It exists in the eye of the beholder. Reservations longer than 30 nights are not possible.

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Syntax – Information Structure – Discourse Organization

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