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Focus marking asymmetries in Colloquial and Standard French: A stochastic optimality-theoretic account


This article investigates the grammatical realization of the notion of focus in Colloquial French and Standard French. Based on two production experiments, the article reveals three findings: (i) focus marking is not as categorical as previously acknowledged, (ii) focus marking asymmetry for subjects vs. non-subjects is only supported in CoF and (iii) there is no strict relationship between focus realization and interpretation in either variety. I develop a stochastic optimality-theory analysis, which explains the canonical-cleft sentence alternation in terms of prosody and expands on past literature by accounting for the variation observed both within and across language variety.

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Address for correspondence: Department of French and Italian, University of Iowa, 111 Phillips Hall, Iowa City, Iowa 52245 United States e-mail:
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Journal of French Language Studies
  • ISSN: 0959-2695
  • EISSN: 1474-0079
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