The University of Sussex

The focus properties of copular sentences

Melanie Green

This paper examines the syntax of copular constructions in Hausa, within a Principles and Parameters/Minimalist framework. These constructions are argued to display focus properties, as manifested by a range of attested word-orders, each contextually determined. An analysis is presented to account for these focus properties, wherein it is argued that the copular element found in such constructions in Hausa is not a verbal or inflectional element as argued by McConvell (73) and Tuller (86a) respectively, but instead the spellout of a functional category F(ocus) in the sense of Brody (90). Focus-marking results from left-adjency to this element, in linear terms, and from te spec-head configuration in structural terms. Cross-linguistic support for this approach is drawn from a discussion of the focus properties of copular sentences in both English and Arabic.

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