Pitch Accent, Focus, and the Interpretation of Non-WH Exclamatives in French
Heather Burnett
June 2009

This paper examines the cross-linguistic realization of the class of exclamatives in the Romance languages. I argue that, while the syntactic and semantic properties of exclamative sentences are usually viewed as being licensed by wh-morphology, other grammatical features such as f(ocus) marking may serve a similar purpose in the construction of exclamative meaning. In particular, I argue that exclamations with focused gradation quantifiers, such as the Québec French sentence J’ai vu un film ASSEZ bon! “I saw SUCH a good movie!” display many of the same semantic properties that have been observed with wh-exclamatives. I propose that the semantic content of this new type of exclamative is a gradation construction with an implicit threshold clause and focus on the quantifier. I propose that the exclamative operator binds the threshold yielding an extreme degree reading, and that the presence of this operator is licensed by the focus structure of the sentence.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/001106
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Sonia Colina (ed.) Romance Linguistics 2009. Amsterdam: John Benjamins
keywords: exclamatives, focus, degree quantifiers, french, semantics, quantification, phonology, syntax, semantics
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