Identifying inferences in focus [chapter]

Dan Wedgwood
2007 Linguistics Today  
This paper investigates the relationship between inferential pragmatics and the grammar, as manifested in the structure and interpretation of the Hungarian 'focus position' construction. Typically, this is analysed as the use of an abstract syntactic projection whose semantic effect is to introduce an 'exhaustivity' or 'identificational focus' operator. This analysis is shown to be unsustainable, the apparent 'focus position' being in fact a particular kind of predicative position which hosts
more » ... so the main verb stem and any of a set of 'verbal modifier' items which are in complementary distribution with syntactically focused expressions. This position has highly underspecified, procedural semantics, triggering different inferences in the course of parsing, according to the nature of the expression encountered there. This calls for an incremental processing-based approach to modelling grammar and its interpretation, as argued in Wedgwood (2005) . In this paper, I concentrate in particular on the status of the 'identificational' reading associated with the 'focus position', an issue which gives a new slant on the supposed close similarity of this construction to the English it-cleft.
doi:10.1075/la.100.13wed fatcat:p4k7swndofgvfn7c2w2odpvcpa