Pseudo-clefts: An interactional analysis across languages

Yael Maschler, Jan Lindström, Elwys De Stefani

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial


In this introduction to the special issue “Pseudo-Clefts from a Comparative Pragmatic Typological Perspective”, we first discuss the current state of research on the use of pseudo-cleft-like structures in talk-in-interaction. We then compare their use in the six languages investigated in this special issue: French, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin and Swedish, focusing on both structural features and interactional aspects of pseudo-clefts, as they emerge in social interaction. While there have been some previous interactional linguistic studies of pseudo-clefts in a variety of languages, there has been no study systematically investigating this structure from a comparative and interactional cross-language perspective. Our introduction is thus motivated by the need to fill in this gap. Specifically, we compare the six languages with respect to syntactic and lexico-semantic variation, and with respect to prosodic and embodied features of pseudo-cleft turns. We argue that the findings point to universal interactional motivations for the grammatical properties of this structure, and that the analysis of pseudo-clefts occurring in natural, face-to-face interaction needs to pay close attention to two central dimensions of talk: temporality and embodiment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103538
StatePublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier B.V.


  • Emergent complex syntax
  • Interactional linguistics
  • Multimodality
  • Projecting constructions
  • Pseudo-clefts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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