wh-cleft

< Previous | Next >

irene_

New Member
Spanish
In this two variants of the wh-cleft:

"All we did was follow Biff around"
"All I want is out there"


are the focalised entities (I think I have underlined them) topical?


Thanks in advance
 
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I don't believe the second sentence is a cleft form.

    All we did was follow Biff around.
    What did we do?
    We followed Biff around.
    I think the original sentence is a form of cleft sentence.

    Contrast the second sentence. I don't believe it is a cleft sentence.
    All I want is out there.
    What do I want?
    I want out there. :cross:

    Here is another sentence similar to the Biff sentence.
    All I want is cheese on toast.
    What do I want?
    I want cheese on toast. :tick:
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Again, I agree with panj: the second sentence is not a cleft sentence.

    Can you explain what you mean by "topical", irene? I think that some analyses would describe "all I want"/"all I did" as the 'topic', regardless of whether the sentence is a cleft sentence.

    If you are asking whether in "All we did was follow Biff around" the follow Biff around is foregrounded - made more prominent - then, yes, I would agree:).
     
    Last edited:

    irene_

    New Member
    Spanish
    I was trying to find out if cleft constructions are used for assigning focus or not. (Marked, unmarked focus..)

    And if the focus in each sentence is as well the topic of the sentence. (What you just said :) )
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi again, irene!

    I think it would really help if you could explain what you understand by "focus" and "topic":).

    If by "assigning focus" you mean something like "giving prominence", then yes, cleft sentences are definitely used to highlight - to give prominence to - some element of a sentence.

    "Topic", for me, is something different. It's "what the sentence is about" - usually the first significant element in the sentence.
     

    irene_

    New Member
    Spanish
    I meant by 'assigning focus' to change an unmarked end focus (when the focus is on the last non-anaphoric lexical item or name in the clause as in: "Pete just complained about it") for a marked one, as in "It was Tuesday that I saw him".

    The topic.. I wanted to know if the focus on each sentence could be at the same time the topic of the clause. For example, in:

    "All we did was follow Biff around"

    Then the topic is just "All we did"?? And in:

    "(Everytime I’ve left) it’s been a fight that sent me out of here"

    "it" is the topic? or 'a fight'?
     
    Last edited:

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Thanks for explaining what you understand by "focus", irene:). Can you also explain what you understand by "topic"?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    In that case, I'd say that the 'topic' in "All we did was follow Biff around" is "All we did".

    It's a different issue from "foregrounding":).
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top