chapter  10
24 Pages

Answering Strategies: New Information Subjects and the Nature of Clefts

Different languages typically adopt different ways to answer the same question concerning the identication of the subject of the clause, when the answer is provided through a full clause. I will refer to these ways as different answering strategies.1 Consider the following list in I. as an illustration:

I. A. a. Chi è partito / ha parlato ? Italian: VS (‘free inversion’)b. E’ partito / ha parlato Gianni

B. a. Qui est parti/ a parlé? French: ((reduced) Cleft)b. C’est Jean (qui est parti/ a parlé)

C. a. Who came/spoke? English: SV/(in situ focalization)b. John came/spoke

c. John did

The overwhelming preferred strategy in Italian has the new information focus subject located in the postverbal position (often referred to as ‘free inversion’ in the literature).2 French speakers tend to typically adopt a reduced cleft sentence in their answers, while English speakers preserve the subject-verb order of declarative clauses; a special stress is attributed to the preverbal subject with a resulting prosody that is very different from that of simple declaratives, whose subject qualies as the argument that the predicate is about.3 I refer to this strategy as focalization in situ. A possible suggestion on the in situ strategy will be briey sketched out. In this chapter, however, I will mainly concentrate on the discussion of the VS and (reduced) cleft strategies, the relation between them, and the way in which it can be explicitly expressed through a cartographic analysis to be developed in detail. It will emerge that, despite their supercial difference, both strategies share a crucial property: They involve a postverbal subject in the

same position dedicated to new information focus in the vP-periphery of the clause.4