Peter C. Collins's Cleft and Pseudo-Cleft Constructions in English (Theoretical PDF

By Peter C. Collins

ISBN-10: 0203202465

ISBN-13: 9780203202463

ISBN-10: 0415063280

ISBN-13: 9780415063289

Systematic research of the discourse-functions of clefts and pseudo-clefts, supplying info at the frequency of those buildings in several genres, and fighting the `tidying-up' present in examples devised through the linguist.

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Extra resources for Cleft and Pseudo-Cleft Constructions in English (Theoretical Linguistics)

Sample text

Consider (35): (35) What Tom offered Sue was a puzzle. (35) is ambiguous between an identifying reading (on which it qualifies as a pseudo-cleft), where a puzzle is understood in a substantive, referential sense (for example, ‘a crossword puzzle’), and an attributive reading, where the embedded wh-clause is interrogative and a puzzle has adjectival force. ’ On its attributive reading (35) cannot be reversed or uncleaved, and has no cleft or right-dislocated counterpart. On the other hand it does, unlike the sentence on its identifying reading, have an extraposed version (‘It was a puzzle what Tom offered Sue’).

On the identifying reading the sentence is closely related semantically to ‘Tom is ridiculous’ and ‘It is ridiculous that Tom is’. 6 The sentence is identifying, even though both the wh-clause and the highlighted element are attributive, precisely because the structure as a whole is identifying, specifying an identity for an entity that is to be identified. The constructions which are superficially similar to pseudo-clefts that I have examined so far have involved intensive attribution. Occasional examples may also be found of sentences, superficially similar to pseudo-clefts, which involve circumstantial attribution.

This is leading on towards the reflective end of the scale, where action is reconstructed, rather than commented on. Next we might place a book about cricket in a given year. Then a book about cricket in general. And finally, an even more abstract text, one which constructs rather than reconstructs reality. An example might be a philosophically oriented treatise on The database 21 sport, fair play, and cricket as symbolising the English way of life (no under-arm bowling allowed). What is happening along this scale is that language is getting further and further removed from what it is actually talking about, not simply in terms of temporal distance (distance from the scene of the crime as it were), but eventually in terms of abstraction as well.

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Cleft and Pseudo-Cleft Constructions in English (Theoretical Linguistics) by Peter C. Collins


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