University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Ibero-Romance Linguistics Seminars > Cleft sentences in the history of French and English: a case of pragmatic borrowing?

Cleft sentences in the history of French and English: a case of pragmatic borrowing?

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Ioanna Sitaridou.

This talk will address the question of whether there is a connection between the development of clefts in older stages of French and English (“contact hypothesis”). Based on corpus studies of Old French and Middle English we will provide new data for a careful evaluation of the contact hypothesis, and some clues for the informationstructural differences between languages which share many other syntactic properties and developments. Further, we will compare the plausibility of internal development to contact-induced change, which relates the development of English cleft structures to the French influence after the Norman conquest (Wehr, 2005; Filppula, 2009). Based on our findings we will assume that pragmatic borrowing in the sense of Prince (1988) has occurred. Our proposal is based on data extracted from the most relevant diachronic corpora for Old and Middle French (MCVF: Martineau 2009; SRCMF : Prévost and Stein 2013), and Old and Middle English (YCOE: Taylor et al. 2003; PPCME2 : Kroch and Taylor 2000).

This talk is part of the Ibero-Romance Linguistics Seminars series.

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