Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 789–816 | Cite as

On the prospects of a clause combining approach to “focusing” no-constructions in Malagasy

  • Hans-Martin GärtnerEmail author
Original Paper


This paper explores the pros and cons of assimilating Malagasy “Focusing” No-Constructions (FNCs) to Temporal No-Constructions (TNCs), which arise from the combination of two full-fledged clauses. The particle no functions as a clause-linker introducing an adverbial clause. It is shown that a neo-Davidsonian semantics assimilating FNCs to TNCs can be developed. Among the attractive consequences of this is the possibility of giving pre-no quantifiers a standard (non predicative) semantics. The clause combining approach also squares well with the finding that the “focusing” nature of FNCs is less regular than often assumed. In particular, non-backgrounded (non-“presupposed”) no-clauses can be found. Among the drawbacks of a clause combining approach is its apparent inability to properly constrain “binding” relations between the two clauses. In particular, locality restrictions typical for movement relations are unpredicted. The paper discusses these features in some detail against the backdrop of rivaling movement and pseudocleft approaches. My hope is that it helps in clarifying their strengths and weaknesses. Also, I show that formal semantics is a useful, hitherto often neglected, tool with some potential of furthering our understanding the nature of Malagasy FNCs.


Malagasy Clause combining Information structure Clefts Neo-Davidsonian semantics 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Asher, Nicholas, and Alexis, Lascarides. 2003. Logics of conversation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar
  2. Dayal, Veneeta. 2002. Single-pair versus multiple-pair answers: wh-in-situ and scope. Linguistic Inquiry 33: 512–519. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. den Dikken, Marcel. 2006. Relators and linkers. Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  4. Frey, Werner. 2004. The grammar-pragmatics interface and the German prefield. Sprache & Pragmatik 52: 1–39. Google Scholar
  5. Fugier, Huguette. 1998. Syntaxe Malgache. Louvain-la-Neuve: Peeters. Google Scholar
  6. Gärtner, Hans-Martin, Paul Law, and Joachim Sabel. 2006. Clause structure and adjuncts in Austronesian languages: a critical introductory survey. In Clause structure and adjuncts in Austronesian languages, eds. Hans-Martin Gärtner, Paul Law, and Joachim Sabel, 1–42. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Google Scholar
  7. Georgopoulos, Carol. 1985. Variables in Palauan syntax. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 3: 59–94. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Geurts, Bart, and Rob van der Sandt. 2004. Interpreting focus. Theoretical Linguistics 30: 1–44. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Guilfoyle, Eithne, Henrietta Hung, and Lisa Travis. 1992. Spec of IP and spec of VP: two subjects in Austronesian languages. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 10: 375–414. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Haida, Andreas. 2007. The indefiniteness and focusing of wh-words. PhD Dissertation, Humboldt University Berlin. Google Scholar
  11. Hedberg, Nancy, and Lorna Fadden. 2007. The information structure of it-clefts, wh-clefts and reverse wh-clefts in English. In The grammar pragmatics interface, eds. Nancy Hedberg and Ron Zacharski, 49–76. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Google Scholar
  12. Heycock, Caroline, and Anthony Kroch. 1999. Pseudocleft connectedness: implications for the LF interface level. Linguistic Inquiry 30: 365–397. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Higgins, Francis Roger. 1979. The pseudo-cleft construction in English. New York: Garland. Google Scholar
  14. Hirschbühler, Paul. 1978. The syntax and semantics of wh-constructions. PhD Dissertation, University of Massachusetts. Google Scholar
  15. Iatridou, Sabine, and Anthony Kroch. 1992. The licensing of CP-recursion and its relevance to the Germanic verb-second phenomenon. Working Papers in Scandinavian Syntax 50: 1–24. Google Scholar
  16. Jacken-doff, Ray. 1972. Semantic interpretation in generative grammar. Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  17. Kamp, Hans, and Uwe Reyle. 1993. From discourse to logic. Dordrecht: Kluwer. Google Scholar
  18. Keenan, Edward. 1976. Remarkable subjects in Malagasy. In Subject and topic, ed. Charles Li, 249–301. New York: Academic Press. Google Scholar
  19. Keenan, Edward. 2008. Quantification in Malagasy. In Quantification: a cross-linguistic perspective, ed. Lisa Matthewson, 319–352. Bingley: Emerald. Google Scholar
  20. Krifka, Manfred. 1995. The semantics and pragmatics of polarity items. Linguistic Analysis 25: 209–257. Google Scholar
  21. Krifka, Manfred. 2007. Basic notions of information structure. Interdisciplinary Studies on Information Structure 6: 13–55. Google Scholar
  22. Lambrecht, Knud. 1988. Presentational cleft constructions in spoken French. In Clause combining in grammar and discourse, eds. John Haiman and Sandra A. Thompson, 135–179. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Google Scholar
  23. Lambrecht, Knud, and Laura Michaelis. 1998. Sentence accent in information questions: default and projection. Linguistics & Philosophy 21: 477–544. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Law, Paul. 2005. Questions and clefts in Malagasy. In Proceedings of AFLA XII, eds. Jeffrey Heinz and Dimitris Ntelitheos, 195–209. Los Angeles: UCLA Working Papers in Linguistics. Google Scholar
  25. Law, Paul. 2007. The syntactic structure of the cleft construction in Malagasy. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 25: 765–823. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Link, Godehard. 1998. Generalized quantifiers and plurals. In Algebraic semantics in language and philosophy, 89–116. Stanford: CSLI Publications. Google Scholar
  27. Malzac, R.P. 1926. Grammaire Malgache. Paris: Société d’Editions Géographiques, Maritimes et Coloniales. Google Scholar
  28. McCloskey, James. 1979. Transformational syntax and model theoretic semantics. Dordrecht: Reidel. Google Scholar
  29. Moro, Andrea. 1997. The raising of predicates. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pacquement, François, Elodie Dao, and Noro Andriamiseza. 1999. Hery et les Monstres. Hery sy ny zava-mampatahotra. Bilingue français-malgache. Paris: L’Harmattan. Google Scholar
  31. Partee, Barbara. 1987. Noun phrase interpretation and type shifting principles. In Studies in discourse representation theory and the theory of generalized quantifiers, eds. Jeroen Groenendijk, Dick De Jongh, and Martin Stokhof, 115–143. Dordrecht: Foris. Google Scholar
  32. Partee, Barbara. 1998. Copula inversion puzzles in English and Russian. In Formal approaches to Slavic linguistics, eds. Katarzyna Dziwirek, Herbert Coats, and Cynthia Vakareliyska, 361–395. Ann Arbor: Michigan Slavic Publications. Google Scholar
  33. Paul, Ileana. 2000. Malagasy clause structure. PhD Dissertation, UCLA. Google Scholar
  34. Paul, Ileana. 2001. Concealed pseudo-clefts. Lingua 111: 707–727. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Paul, Ileana. 2008. On the topic of pseudoclefts. Syntax 11: 91–124. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Pearson, Matthew. 2001. The clause structure of Malagasy: a minimalist approach. PhD Dissertation, Los Angeles, UCLA. Google Scholar
  37. Pearson, Matthew. 2005. The Malagasy subject/topic as an A′-element. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 23: 381–457. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Potsdam, Eric. 2006a. The cleft structure of Malagasy wh-questions. In Clause structure and adjuncts in Austronesian languages, eds. Hans-Martin Gärtner, Paul Law, and Joachim Sabel, 195–232. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Google Scholar
  39. Potsdam, Eric. 2006b. More concealed pseudoclefts in Malagasy and the clausal typing hypothesis. Lingua 116: 2154–2182. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Potsdam, Eric. 2007. Malagasy sluicing and its consequences for the identity requirement on ellipsis. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 25: 577–613. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rackowski Andrea, and Lisa Travis. 2000. V-initial languages: X or XP movement and adverbial placement. In The syntax of verb initial languages, eds. Andrew Carnie and Eithne Guilfoyle, 117–141. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  42. Raharinirina-Rabaovololona, Lucie. 1991. Lexique-Grammaire des Composes du Malgache. Les Adverbes de Temps. PhD Dissertation, University of Paris 7. Google Scholar
  43. Reis, Marga. 1995. Extractions from verb-second clauses in German. In On extraction and extraposition in German, eds. Uli Lutz and Jürgen Pafel, 45–88. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Google Scholar
  44. Rizzi, Luigi. 1997. The fine structure of the left periphery. In Elements of grammar, ed. Liliane Haegeman, 281–337. Dordrecht: Kluwer. Google Scholar
  45. Roberts, Craige. 2003. Uniqueness in definite noun phrases. Linguistics & Philosophy 26: 287–350. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Rooth, Mats. 1985. Association with focus. PhD Dissertation, University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Google Scholar
  47. Rothstein, Susan. 2001. Predicates and their subjects. Dordrecht: Kluwer. Google Scholar
  48. Russell, Bertrand. 1905. On denoting. Mind 14: 479–493. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sabel, Joachim. 2002. Wh-questions and extraction asymmetries in Malagasy. MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 44: 309–323. Google Scholar
  50. Sabel, Joachim. 2003. Malagasy as an optional multiple wh-fronting language. In Multiple wh-fronting, eds. Cedric Boeckx and Kleanthes Grohmann, 229–254. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Google Scholar
  51. Sasse, Hans-Jürgen. 1987. The thetic/categorical distinction revisited. Linguistics 25: 511–580. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Schachter, Paul. 1976. The subject in Philippine languages: topic, actor, actor-topic or none of the above? In Subject and topic, ed. Charles Li, 491–518. New York: Academic Press. Google Scholar
  53. Schlenker, Philippe. 2003. Clausal equations (a note on the connectivity problem). Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 21: 157–214. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Schwarzschild, Roger. 1999. GIVENness, AvoidF and other constraints on the placement of accent. Natural Language Semantics 7: 141–177. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sharvit, Yael. 1999. Connectivity in specificational sentences. Natural Language Semantics 7: 299–339. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Thiersch, Craig. 2006. Three systems of remnant movement II and extraction from specifiers. In Clause structure and adjuncts in Austronesian languages, eds. Hans-Martin Gärtner, Paul Law, and Joachim Sabel, 233–280. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Google Scholar
  57. Urmson, J.O. 1963. Parenthetical verbs. In Philosophy and ordinary language, ed. Charles E. Caton, 220–240. Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press. Google Scholar
  58. Vikner, Sten. 1995. Verb movement and expletive subjects in the Germanic languages. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  59. Williams, Edwin. 1983. Semantic vs. syntactic categories. Linguistics & Philosophy 6: 423–446. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS)Berlin (Mitte)Germany

Personalised recommendations