On Specification Predication and the derivation of copular to-clauses in Polish

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Adam Mickiewicz University

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The paper offers a consistently derivational account of Polish predicational and specificational copular clauses with the occurrence of a particle to instead of a verbal copula być (‘be’). The particle to is given the status of a predicative head with the potential of designating a phrase in its c-command domain as a specification predicate. Such a phrase is then interpreted as the focus at the C-I interface. Thus, a view is promoted in which the focus, a category of information structure, is not directly coded in narrow syntax, but is rather an interpretive outcome of a more general syntactic relation, referred to as Specification Predication. This view has been inspired by Kiss’s (2006, 2010) idea that focusing is predication but it substantially differs from her approach. The analysis is limited to copular-to clauses, but it is suggested to have a potential for the account of two more syntactic types with the occurrence of the particle to, namely, so-called to-clefts, and topic-to sentences. The proposal advanced in the paper is confronted with three earlier accounts dealing with copular-to clauses, and is shown to avoid some empirical and conceptual problems they have posed. It is shown how the derivation of copular-to clauses proceeds through a sequence of minimal and well-defined steps starting from the formation of an array of two nominal phrases, through a Small Clause stage to a Specification Predicative Phrase. Couched in the recent minimalist framework, the analysis specifically dwells on the theoretical advancements determining the nature of syntactic derivations, such as Hornstein’s (2009) distinctions between operations Concatenate, Merge and Label, Moro’s (2000, 2008) idea of Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking or Chomsky’s (2013) view of Labeling.




copula, copular clauses, predication, specification, focus, derivation


Studia Anglica Posnaniensia, vol. 50.4(2015), pp. 25-66



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Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego