Syntactic constraints on relevance

Valandis Bardzokas (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)

Abstract

The aim of the presentation is to discuss Modern Greek (MG) causal subordination, as in He came back, epiδi (because) he loved her, with a focus on the type of meaning attached to pre-posed subordinate clauses in reversed configurations, as in epiδi (because) he loved her, he came back. In this connection, its ultimate concern lies with the question of how a MG because p, q construction differs in meaning from its canonical counterpart (i.e., q because p), or what kind of contribution pre-position makes to the overall meaning of a causal conjunction. To address this matter, I take the relevance-theoretic approach. In this framework of meaning analysis, it turns out that the type of meaning associated with causal pre-position can be treated rigorously and comprehensively in typical procedural terms. In this spirit, I would like to argue that the pre-positioning of MG causal connectives serves as a syntactic constraint on contextual information (captured in the subordinate clause), facilitating the derivation of contextual effects. This constraint is employed to communicate an unobjectionable pre-justification of the content of the main clause whose realization is pending. In this sense, this procedure can be said to contribute additional import to the overall interpretation of a causal conjunction.