Well-formed lists: Specificational copular sentences as predicative inversion constructions

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This paper re-examines the case for analysing specificational NP BE NP sentences as predicative inversions. Taking a constructional and functional perspective, I show that only predicational sentences exhibiting a relation of class inclusion permit a specificational interpretation, and argue, following Higgins (1979), that the form of specificational inversion sentences is dependent upon the construction-specific concept of specificational meaning. In this way, the account provides an explanation for the restrictions on NP predicative inversion that have posed a problem for inverse analyses developed from within the formalist tradition. Since the distributional facts can be better captured than with the alternative equative approach (which treats specificational sentences as instances of semantic equation), the paper concludes that specificational copular sentences are best analysed as instances of predicative inversion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-99
JournalEnglish Language & Linguistics
Issue number1
Early online date1 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


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