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date: 24 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides an overview of the most important theoretical positions on the exhaustivity inference often associated with it-clefts in English and comparable structures in other languages alongside with a brief review of the results of a number of experimental studies. There is a surprising discrepancy between the predictions of the theoretical analyses and the empirical findings. While theoretical approaches tend to derive exhaustivity as a necessary semantic inference, most experimental studies suggest that the exhaustivity of it-clefts might be a pragmatic inference. The chapter discusses this discrepancy in some detail and suggests some potential solutions.

Keywords: exhaustivity, it-clefts, Hungarian focus, Question Under Discussion (QUD), conversational implicatures, presuppositions, definite descriptions

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