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Cleft Sentences

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Chapter Summary

The term 'cleft sentence' was introduced by O. Jespersen for sentences such as it is.who, c 'est lui, qui.. The sentences are cleft in order 'to single out one particular element of the sentence and very often, by directing attention to it and bringing it, as it were, into focus'. In these sentences the logical Pr is turned into the formal Pr of a nominal or copular sentence and the rest of the utterance is nominalized so as to become a subject clause of that sentence. The focalized logical Pr is designated with the French term vedette, the rest of the utterance with the term glose. In Syriac studies 'cleft sentence' is employed to designate clauses of the typeܬ ܚ ܐ ܘ ܗ ܬ ܒ ܐ 'it is you who said'. The main function of the so-called cleft sentences is rhematization. In verbal clauses the verb usually is or contains the new information.

Keywords: copular sentence; rhematization; Syriac cleft sentences; vedette



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