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Re: Clefts and Pseudoclefts (longish)

From:Matt Pearson <jmpearson@...>
Date:Friday, May 26, 2000, 17:54
Roger Mills wrote, on producing clefts and pseudoclefts in Kash:

>Modern exs.: >It was Erek whom I saw: Fairly formal: ereken, yan matikas > More colloquial: erek(en), na, matikas-- The acc. could be dropped >here, since context & verb form clarify, not so in case both subj. and obj. >were 3d person. _na_ is actually a hesitation form, sort of "well" or >"now". > >It was Erek whom Sani saw: Formal: ereken, sani yan yatikas ~ ereken, yan >yatikas Sani. Colloq: ereken, na, sani yatikas ~ yatikas sani (and if the >context were not clear, even the colloq. would keep the _yan_) > >I can't eat cheese: ta (ma)pole manahan keso >It's cheese I can't eat: Formal: keso, ta yu mapole manahan (_yu_ is >3s-acc/inanim. referring to Keso) Colloq. keso, na, ta pole manahan >In these cases, the commas indicate breaks in the intonation.
Although they are perfectly reasonable focus constructions, these are not actually clefts, but left-dislocation constructions. The "formal" constructions I would call clitic left-dislocation constructions, on analogy with Romance constructions like the French "Jean, je l'aime" ("Jean, I him-love") where the focussed noun phrase is dislocated to the front of the sentence and replaced/'resumed' with a clitic pronoun. Your "colloquial" constructions are regular old left-dislocations with no clitic replacement. Your choice of the element "na" to separate the focussed constituent from the rest of the sentence is highly interesting. In Malagasy, left- dislocated constituents are separated from the rest of the sentence by an element "dia", which, though it is usually analysed as a focus particle in this construction, is actually a conjunction meaning "then" or "and then" (used frequently in "if... then..." constructions). The use of conjunction/complementiser-type elements like "but" and "then" as focus markers has been documented for other languages as well, such as Bengali. Although your punctuation seems to indicate that "na" is just a little filler word, one might be tempted to (re)analyse it as a focus particle analogous to "dia" in Malagasy. I'd encourage you to play around with this some more and see what develops. Matt.