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Current Issues in Italian, Romance and Germanic Non-canonical Word Orders

Syntax – Information Structure – Discourse Organization


Edited By Anna-Maria De Cesare and Davide Garassino

This volume aims at offering an up-to-date survey on non-canonical word orders and their interplay with information structure and discourse organization. The contributions analyze different non-canonical syntactic structures (fronting, inversion, dislocations, and cleft constructions), focusing on Italian alone or on Italian in a contrastive perspective with one or more Romance (French, Romanian, Portuguese, Spanish) and/or Germanic (English and German) languages. The authors tackle the main issue of the volume from a variety of perspectives and by relying on different theoretical frameworks. At the same time, they all offer a fine-grained description of the structures analyzed on the basis of a solid empirical foundation.
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Some remarks on different classifications of cleft constructions and their areal distribution



Abstract: In the first part of the contribution, we present different taxonomies of cleft constructions proposed in the literature. The second part of the contribution deals with the areal distribution of clefts in Europe, with special attention to the Romance languages. In the west, it-clefts are an obligatory means of expressing focus both in the Celtic languages and in French. This fact can be correlated with the finding that, in the west, the single word is merged in a “sentence word” (cf. Bechert 1990). Prosody thus plays a crucial role in accounting for the high frequency of it-clefts in the Celtic languages and in French. Moreover, as predicted by Bechert’s findings, Romanian, which is situated at the eastern periphery of Europe, rarely uses clefts. A corpus analysis based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in English, French and Romanian corroborates these assumptions.

After a discussion of Lambrecht’s definition of cleft constructions, this article will present different taxonomies that have been proposed to classify them. Some problems of interest in the current linguistic debate related to the description of clefts will also find consideration. Furthermore, we shall see that the areal distribution of clefts as stated by Wehr (2015) and others2 can be corroborated by a corpus analysis that includes English, French and Romanian.

1    Introductory remarks

First of all, we have to specify what we understand by the term “cleft construction”. The classical definition given by Lambrecht is as follows:...

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