From this perspective, it does not seem to be a case that the "identification by exclusion" performed by a cleft sentence necessarily results from the compositional semantics of the cleft itself.
As we show in sections 2 and 3, the literature on the "exhaustiveness effects", or the "exhaustiveness inference", of cleft sentences mainly addresses the issue of what type of inference it is: is it a semantic inference--an entailment?
We think this conclusion reopens a few issues about the semantics and the pragmatics of cleft sentences, in particular one, namely: how much of "exhaustiveness" should be codified as a "conventional feature" of cleft sentences (as an entailment, or as a presupposition, or, yet, as a generalized implicature, for example), and how much should be derived by contextual calculation?
The non-RC portion of the cleft sentence will be called matrix clause (or simply matrix).
In saying that the matrix subject of an IT-type cleft is an empty element I do not wish to say that it is devoid of all meaning but merely that it does not play a SEMANTIC ROLE in its clause; as we will see, the lexical difference between types of empty subject can play an important role in the pragmatic construal of a cleft sentence.
According to these authors, "the main eventuality denoted by the cleft sentence is the state corresponding to the copular verb" (1995: 477).
I am grateful to Maura Velazquez-Castillo, Jim Garvey, Sarah Rilling, and participants at the Humboldt University, Berlin, Workshop on the Discourse Function(s) of Cleft Sentences for discussion of various topics in this paper.
Discourse pragmatics and cleft sentences in English.
Like all cleft sentences, pseudoclefts are associated with an existential presupposition that characterizes the variable as an element of an alternative set.
Cleft-like sentences" is a product of the last project focusing on cleft sentences.