It-clefts are IT (Inquiry Terminating) constructions

Dan Velleman, David Beaver, Emilie Destruel, Dylan Bumford, Edgar Onea, Liz Coppock


We offer a new analysis of the semantics of the English it-cleft, building on recent work on exclusive particles such as "only." The analysis emphasizes the discourse function of clefts — which, we claim, is to terminate a line of inquiry by marking an answer as complete. It accounts for the semantic effects — not previously appreciated — of focus placement within the cleft pivot. It also provides a solution to a previously discussed problem with the projection of exhaustivity from embedded contexts.


clefts; only; exhaustivity; focus; focus-sensitivity

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