CategoryGeneral Linguistics

It-Clefts & WH-Clefts


Clefting transformations are used in English and many other languages to mark information structure. It-Clefts are of the form: It is/was/will be … that where what comes between the first and the second part of the construction is the clefted noun phrase, prepositional phrase or adverb. e.g. 1. It is Kareem that makes the wonderful pasta. 2. It was in July that I last went abroad. 3. It is...

Marking Information Structure


Givenness, topic and contrast are not inherent properties of particular noun phrases, but relational categories of information structure. e.g. whether a noun phrase is contrastive or not can be identified only in light of the utterance or even the discourse in which it occurs Definiteness, referentiality and the generic/specific contrast are inherent properties of the noun phrase. e.g. whether a...

Definite, Indefinite, Referential, Generic & Specific Expression


Definite – a noun phrase that is marked to indicate that the speaker believes the addressee can identify its referent Indefinite – when the noun phrase is not marked with the assumption that the addressee can identify the referent e.g. Kanbulo: Who brought in the cat? Futhu: The boy. Pronouns and proper nouns are generally definite – but there are exceptions e.g. There is a...

Topic, Comment & Contrast


Topic – the main centre of attention in a sentence Comment – the element of sentence that says something about the topic Often (but not always) given information is the topic and the new information represents the comment e.g. Speaking of Hiyala, she won the contest. As for Hiyala, she won the contest. In certain cases, the new information can be the topic as well e.g. Hiyala won the...

Information Structure


Pragmatics – (sometimes used interchangeably with the term information structure) studies language use, in particular the relationship among syntax, semantics and the interpretation in accordance with the context of situation. Information Structure – level of structure at which certain elements in a sentences are highlighted or backgrounded according to their prominence in the...