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Auteur: Rusudan ASATIANI

The Information Structures of a Sentence: Cleft Questions in Megrelian and Laz

Abstract/Résumé: The Information Structures of a Sentence: Cleft Questions in Megrelian and Laz The Kartvelian Languages (Megrelian and Laz) provide constructions qualified as “Clefts”. (1) mušeni re meurki=ni? why be.PRS.S.3.SG S.2.go.PRS.SG-that ‘Why is it that you are going?’ Structurally, this type of constructions in Megrelian seems to be in confirmation with the universal description of clefts (Harris 1993): • There are two clauses – (a) mušeni re and (b) meurki=ni; • The first clause being the the super-ordinate one contains the focused constituent – the question word mušeni – and the copula re; • The second clause is subordinate one and has the structure of a relative clause with the clause final conjunction ni; • It is not expected to find a pronominal place holder comparable to English it, since Megrelian does not use one otherwise (Chikobava 1936). Harris (1988, 1993) has discussed just only one type of cleft constructions in Laz developed from the relative clause construction, which she dubs a ‘top-heavy cleft’, indicating a shift in topic or introducing a new episode: (2) arteɣi k’ulani na yen, ka=gami-q’on-u amu-k. one.NOM girl.NOM that be.PRS-S.3.SG AFF-PR-bring-AOR.S.3.SG 3.SG-ERG ‘As for the girl, he brought her out.’ Yet, there exist cleft questions similar to the Megrelian ones as well: (3) mu (r)en, na č’ar-um-s? what-NOM be.PRS.S.3.SG that write-TM-S.3.SG ‘What is it that s/he is writing?’ The structural difference between the Megrelian and the Laz cleft questions is that in Megrelian a focused constituent is governed by a verb presented in the first being the subordinate clause and the conjunction ni is at the end of a sentence closing the whole construction, while in Laz focus constituent’s case is defined by the copula presented in the super-ordinate clause and the conjunction na begins the second being the subordinate clause. Megrelian: Laz: mu-su re, č’ar-un-s=ni? mu (r)en, na č’ar-um-s? what-DAT be.PRS.S.3 write-TM-S.3.SG=that what-NOM be.PRS.S.3.SG that write-TM-S.3.SG ‘What is it that s/ho is writing? ‘What is it that s/ho is writing? The cleft constructions universally serve the purpose of focusing a constituent in a content question; in Megrelian and Laz they can represent broadened pragmatic functions and semantic nuances such are: repeated questioning, surprise and astonishment, anger and irritation, sadness and worry, and etc.