[Lingtyp] copula as focus marker

Christian Lehmann christian.lehmann at uni-erfurt.de
Sun Mar 12 20:27:05 UTC 2023

Dear colleagues,

the literature available to me adduces a Caribbean Spanish example of 
what I am looking for:

Juan compró fue un libro.
John bought was a book
'A book is what John bought.'

The copula here separates the topical portion of the clause from the 
comment portion, including importantly the focus (to which this portion 
reduces in the example). Different sources of such a construction are 
conceivable, for instance a pseudo-cleft:

Lo que Juan compró fue un libro.
it that John bought was a book
'What John bought was a book.'

What concerns me at the moment, however, is the bare copula in the 
function of a focus marker. I am sure I have seen or heard sentences 
like the following in Portuguese:

O João comprou foi um livro.

or with neutralization of tense and, thus, reduction to the default form 
of the copula:

O João comprou é um livro.

However, I cannot seem to find evidence for this, neither primary data 
nor linguistic treatments of it. Could you please help me out? Both 
references to the linguistic literature and examples, preferably from 
Portuguese, but also from any other language (I do have data from 
Mandarin!) would be welcome.

Thanks in advance,



Prof. em. Dr. Christian Lehmann
Rudolfstr. 4
99092 Erfurt

Tel.: 	+49/361/2113417
E-Post: 	christianw_lehmann at arcor.de
Web: 	https://www.christianlehmann.eu
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