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The Interpretation of it-Clefts

dc.contributor.advisorOnea, Edgar Prof. Dr.
dc.contributor.authorPavlovic, Anna-Christina
dc.titleThe Interpretation of it-Cleftsde
dc.contributor.refereeOnea, Edgar Prof. Dr.
dc.description.abstractengThis dissertation addresses the interpretation of it-clefts in German, as well as that of the related focus structure of Hungarian pre-verbal focus, and presents novel answers to several research gaps. It-clefts are sentences of the form It was Sue who climbed a mountain. One of the most debated questions is whether or not this sentence structure comes with an exhaustivity inference of the form Nobody other than Sue climbed a mountain, and, if it does, whether the exhaustivity is part of the semantic structure of the it-cleft, or a pragmatic inference. This thesis presents the results of a corpus study for German which, in addition to experiments designed based on the naturally occurring corpus data, show that German it-clefts can be exhaustive, but they are not exhaustive in every case. Whether or not it-clefts receive an exhaustive reading depends largely on the context. This assumption is confirmed by a production study, which suggests that, when producing it-clefts in semi-spontaneous written dialog-situations, speakers prefer it-clefts in contexts that are exhaustive and/or contrastive. In acceptability ratings, speakers do not reject it-clefts in non-exhaustive environments. It seems that it-clefts are likely to be used and interpreted to express some kind of exhaustivity. However, the data do not support a semantic analysis of this exhaustivity inference. It-clefts are not a unified class of sentences. There are (at least) two different kinds of itclefts, namely Focus-Background and Topic-Comment Clefts, which serve different information structural purposes and differ in terms of their exhaustivity. This thesis presents experimental results for German which show that the two cleft types actually vary slightly regarding their exhaustivity judgments: TC-clefts seem to be a little less frequently exhaustive than FB-clefts. This thesis further shows that, contrary to previous theoretical assumptions, it-clefts are combinable with a large variety of focus particles, both exclusive (only) and non-exclusive (e.g. also), which can have an influence on the exhaustivity of the cleft structure. As for the case of Hungarian pre-verbal focus, this dissertation shows that this sentence structure did not show the strong exhaustivity that is frequently attributed to it. Therefore, the data support the more recent presuppositional analysis of the exhaustivity inference of Hungarian pre-verbal
dc.contributor.coRefereeZimmermann, Malte Prof. Dr.
dc.contributor.thirdRefereeSteinbach, Markus Prof. Dr.
dc.subject.engpreverbal focusde
dc.affiliation.institutePhilosophische Fakultätde
dc.subject.gokfullPhilologien (PPN621711713)de

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