There is something wrong somewhere
– on the analysis of it-clefts
The focused constituent of an it-cleft is sometimes analysed as the antecedent of the following subordinate clause, just like the head noun to an ordinary relative clause. Such an analysis would make the internal structure of the sentences in (1a–b) identical, disregarding the lexical difference between the subjects (non-refrential in a, referential in b).
(1) a. Det var Lisa som lånade cykeln. (Inte Anna.)
’It was Lisa who borrowed the bike. (Not Anna.)’
b. (Vem var det?) Det var Lisa som lånade cykeln.
’(Who was that?) That was Lisa who borrowed the bike.’
There are, however, formal grammatical differences between the two constructions, that might signal a deeper structural difference as well. (For example: whereas the antecedent of an ordinary relative clause with som ’who/which/that’ is generally nominal, the focused constituent of the cleft can have almost any categorial status.) This suspicion is supported by a semantic analysis of not only affirmative clefts, but also clefts involving a negation. In the latter case, see (2), it is not attractive to regard the focused element as the antecedent to the subordinate clause.
(2) Det var inte Lisa som lånade cykeln.
’It was not Lisa who borrowed the bike.’
With exemples like (2), it is obvious that no constituent Lisa som lånade cykeln ’Lisa who borrowed the bike’ is really identified. Thus, Lisa should not be considered to be the antecedent of the subordinate clause. Formally, although not as obvious at first sight, this also applies to affirmative clefts like the one in (1a).
2002. 272-283 p.