An Intonational Construction

  • Nima Sadat-Tehrani University of Manitoba


The aims of this paper are twofold. First, it introduces an under-documented construction in Persian and investigates its intonational, semantic, pragmatic, syntactic, and information structure properties. A construction is seen here as a non-compositional form-meaning pairing, in line with Construction Grammar/ the Constructionist approach (e.g., Goldberg 1995, 2006). Second, it is in itself an argument in favour of the existence of intonational constructions where the tune determines the meaning (e.g., Liberman & Sag 1974; Marandin 2006). This construction, which has a specific and rather fixed intonation pattern, states the reason or cause of something, usually set in contrast to other possible reasons. The construction has its nuclear pitch accent on the first noun phrase followed by deaccentuation to the end of the utterance and it gets its reason-conveying meaning from this very intonation pattern, regardless of the words used in it.