Chapter published in:Focus Realization in Romance and Beyond
Edited by Marco García García and Melanie Uth
[Studies in Language Companion Series 201] 2018
► pp. 287–310
Cleft sentences in the history of French and English
A case of pragmatic borrowing?
This paper addresses the question of whether certain types of cleft constructions found in earlier stages of English can be interpreted as instances of pragmatic borrowing from French. According to Prince (1988) this type of borrowing can be assumed if (i) a syntactic form in the recipient language is construed in an analogous fashion to a syntactic form in the source language; (ii) the discourse functions of the syntactic form in the source language are borrowed and associated with the syntactic form in the recipient language. Based on a corpus study of Anglo-French (AF) and Middle English (ME) we will show that both languages exhibited a number of different types of cleft constructions some of which seem to have had similar, and some seem to have had different functions. By identifying the nature of clefts in AF as being ambiguous between clefts and predicative constructions, we will discuss in how far this ambiguity could be seen as an accelerating factor of contact-induced change leading to pragmatic borrowing into ME.
Published online: 28 November 2018
Anglo-Norman On-line Hub
2001 Universities of Aberystwyth and Swansea. http://www.anglo-norman.net/
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Pilch, Herbert & Tristram, Hildegard
Sankoff, David & Poplack, Shana
Sebba, Mark, Mahootian, Sharzad & Jonsson, Carla
Taylor, Ann, Warner, Anthony & Pintzuk, Susan
Thomason, Sarah Grey & Kaufman, Terrence
Cited by 1 other publications
Uth, Melanie & Marco García García
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