Not all specificational sentences are reversible
Martina Martinović
November 2021

Specificational sentences, both copular clauses and pseudoclefts, have long been attracting the attention of researchers, due to their syntactic, semantic and pragmatic characteristics. In this squib I address one property that is claimed to be the hallmark of both specificational copular sentences ("His most important quality is his honesty") and specificational pseudoclefts ("What is most important about him is his honesty") – the reversibility of their two constituents around the copula. The fact that in both clause types the two main constituents seem to be able to surface in either order is often taken to be evidence for predicate inversion/raising, the raising of an underlying predicate to the structural subject position (or possibly a higher projection). I here present data from Wolof copular clauses and pseudoclefts that speak in favor of inversion, but only for specificational pseudoclefts. Specificational copular clauses are identical to predicational sentences in the relevant respect, which supports a non-inversion analysis for this clause type.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003198
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: To appear in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory
keywords: specificational sentences, copular sentences, pseudoclefts, predicate inversion, reversibility, syntax
previous versions: v2 [January 2020]
v1 [November 2016]
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