Academic journal article International Journal of Linguistics

Clausal Integration and the Generation of IT-Cleft Construction

Academic journal article International Journal of Linguistics

Clausal Integration and the Generation of IT-Cleft Construction

Article excerpt


IT-cleft construction in English is an old but everlasting topic for researchers in linguistics. However, previous work on IT-cleft construction cannot adequately account for the link between the superordinate clause and the subordinate clause in IT-cleft construction. This paper discusses generation of the typical IT-cleft construction (i.e. NP-highlighted IT-cleft construction) with the apparatus of Clausal Integration Hypothesis. Following this hypothesis, the NP-highlighted IT-cleft construction consists of a superordinate clause and a subordinate clause wherein the NP highlighted constituent as new information represents an answer to the embedded question in the subordinate clause (the question may not physically appear). The superordinate clause phonetically and semantically inherits characteristics of the answer in the question-answer pair while the subordinate clause, which is known as a "relativized question", inherits characteristics of the question in the question-answer pair.

Keywords: IT-cleft construction, Clausal Integration Hypothesis, Generation, Question-answer pair

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

1. Introduction

Cleft constructions in English have always, as Jucker (1996, p. 699) suggested, been a testing ground for linguistic frameworks. Previous work on clefts can be largely grouped into two approaches: the synchronic approach and the diachronic approach. The synchronic approach has paid much attention to form and function of cleft constructions regardless of their diachronic semantic changes. Most of the synchronic analyses of clefts after Jespersen have more or less been influenced by Jespersen's "transposition analysis" and "intercalation analysis". It is believed that some of the transformational analysis (e.g. Amajian, 1970; Gundel, 1977) and systemic-functional analysis (Halliday, 1994) are similar to Jespersen's "transposition analysis". Furthermore, most of the transformational studies (e.g. Chomsky, 1970; Williams, 1980; Delahunty, 1982; Rochemont, 1986, etc.) present some analyses which are similar to the "intercalation analysis" because they treat "it be" as an expletive element that serves to syntactically introduce the "highlighted element" (cleft constituent) (Hedberg, 1990, p. 50-53). The recent trend of approaching cleft constructions from a diachronic perspective has yielded some crucial new findings which in turn provide a new way for us to revisit cleft constructions (e.g. Patten, 2012; Traugott & Trousdale, 2013). However, neither the synchronic nor the diachronic approach can account for the link between the superordinate clauses (i.e. "It was John" in "It was John who broke the window" ) and the subordinate clauses (i.e. "who broke the window"). This paper tries to explain the generation of IT-cleft constructions with the apparatus of Clausal Integration Hypothesis in which the relation between the superordinate clauses and the subordinate clauses are largely bridged.

2. The Basics in the Clausal Integration

2.1 Combination of Clauses

Before discussing the notion of "clausal integration", we should at first consider what "grammaticalization" is. The term "grammaticalization" was probably first used by the French linguist Meillet as a type of language change which has then been discussed by numerous linguists (Givón, 1979; Heine & Reh, 1984; Lehmann, 1985; Traugott & Heine, 1991; Hopper & Traugott, 2003, etc.) The aim of studying grammaticalization, as Meillet (1912) suggested, is to investigate the transition of autonomous words into the role of grammatical elements (Hopper & Traugott, 2003, p. 19). Grammaticalization also refers to "the actual phenomena of language that the framework of grammaticalization seeks to address, most especially the process whereby items become more grammatical through time" (Hopper & Traugott, 2003). Givón (1979) proposes that there is a possibility of incorporating the combining process of clauses into the research of grammaticalization. …

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