Invitation - “A pragmatic typological study of Hebrew and French pseudo-cleft-like constructions: The syntax-lexicon-prosody-body interface”

15 June, 2020

Dear Linguists,

All are invited for out next zoom talk titled “A pragmatic typological study of Hebrew and French pseudo-cleft-like constructions: The syntax-lexicon-prosody-body interface”, which will be given by Yael Maschler (Haifa U.), based on joint work with Simona Pekarek Doehler (U. of Neuchâtel) on Tuesday June 16th, 14:30-16:00 (see abstract below).

Meeting ID: 962 5624 3769

Password: 701050

See you!




A pragmatic typological study of Hebrew and French pseudo-cleft-like constructions: The syntax-lexicon-prosody-body interface  

Yael Maschler, University of Haifa

Simona Pekarek Doehler, University of Neuchâtel


In this study we present a multimodal, interactional linguistic analysis, based on recordings of naturally occurring everyday conversations, of Hebrew clauses opening with ma she- ‘what that’ and French clauses opening with ce que ‘this that’ in what traditionally has been considered to be part of pseudo-cleft structures. In line with existing research (e.g., Hopper 2001, Hopper & Thompson 2008, Pekarek Doehler 2011, Günthner 2011, Maschler & Fishman 2020), we argue that, rather than being viewed as the first part of a bi-clausal structure, the Heb. ma she- / Fr. ce que clause is better understood as a projecting (Auer 2005) construction: it often occurs in talk-in-interaction without any syntactic link to subsequent talk, serving to frame the following talk as an action/event/rephrasal or to display the speaker’s stance towards his/her upcoming talk. We show that this projecting construction has become grammatically and lexically sedimented for specific interactional purposes in a similar fashion across the two languages. We further show that the embodied conduct (Streeck, Goodwin & LeBaron 2011, Keevallik 2018) of speakers employing these sedimented constructions manifests some consistencies across the two languages as a function of the particular sequential contexts in which the construction appears. The study sheds new light on cross-linguistic consistencies in the grammaticization of projecting constructions and on the interface of embodied conduct and complex syntax.



Auer, Peter. 2005. Projection in interaction and projection in grammar. Text 25: 7-36.

Günthner, Susanne. 2011. Between emergence and sedimentation: Projecting constructions in German interactions. In: Peter Auer & Stephan Pfänder (eds.), Constructions: Emerging and Emergent. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.  156-185.

Hopper, Paul J.  2001.  Grammatical constructions and their discourse origins:  Prototype or family resemblance? In: Martin Pütz, Susanne Neimeier, & René Dirven (eds.), Applied Cognitive Linguistics I: Theory and Language Acquisition.  Berlin / New York : Mouton de Gruyter. 109-129. 

Hopper, Paul J. & Thompson, Sandra A.  2008.  Projectability and clause combining in interaction. In: Ritva Laury (ed.), Crosslinguistic Studies of Clause Combining: The Multifunctionality of Conjunctions. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.  99-123.

Keevallik, Leelo. 2018. What does embodied interaction tell us about grammar? Research on Language and Social Interaction, 51(1): 1–21.

Maschler, Yael & Fishman, Stav. 2020. From multi-clausality to discourse markerhood: The Hebrew ma she- ‘what that’ construction in pseudo-cleft-like structures. Journal of Pragmatics 159: 73-97.

Pekarek Doehler, Simona. 2011. Clause-combining and the sequencing of actions:  Projector constructions in French talk-in-interaction. In: Ritva Laury & Ryoko Suzuki (eds.), Subordination in Conversation: A Cross-Linguistic Perspective. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 103-148.

Streeck, Jürgen, Goodwin, Charles, & LeBaron, Curtis (eds.). 2011. Embodied Interaction: Language and Body in the Material World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.