It-clefts and information patterns in spoken language: Desemanticization and new pragmatic functions According to some authors (Huddleston & Pullum 2002; Lehmann 2005), it-clefts are the result of grammaticalization motivated by information distribution. In this paper we refine this claim by showing that with it-clefts in spoken English, which we examined in samples from the UK spoken COBUILD subcorpus and COLT, the three possible patterns of information distribution correlate with different degrees of desemanticization and with different pragmatic effects. Clefts with information structure New-Given are generally viewed as the prototypical pattern, interpretable as the grammaticalized mapping of identifying main clause onto cleft value-variable, e.g. (1) Mr Kelty also played a tape of the Eurythmics hit song Missionary Man, which advised Opposition Leader John Howard: “Don’t mess with missionary man”. Presumably it’s Mr Keating that Mr Kelty thinks is on a mission

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