Is focus a root phenomenon?
Karen Lahousse
April 2021

This article argues that some types of syntactically marked focus in French are root (main clause) phenomena. We show that c’est ‘it is’ clefts which explicitly mark narrow new information focus are root phenomena, in contrast with il y a ‘there is’ clefts marking broad new information focus and contrastive focus c’est ‘it is’ clefts. Nominal inversion in French behaves in the opposite way and is argued to be an ‘inverse root phenomenon’. These observations are explained by Krifka’s (2017) notion of a ‘judge’, its relation with epistemic modality and the distinction between assertive embedded clauses (in which root phenomena occur) and non-assertive embedded clauses (in which root phenomena do not occur).
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Reference: lingbuzz/005919
(please use that when you cite this article)
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keywords: root phenomena, main clause phenomena, clefts, word order, information structure, epistemic modality, syntax
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