Focus Fronting in Spanish: Mirative implicature and information structure

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In Romance, Focus Fronting (FF) is generally related to a contrastive or corrective function. In this paper, I show that Spanish may resort to FF to express a special evaluative meaning, namely, a mirative (conventional) implicature of surprise and unexpectedness. Mirative FF is problematic for the traditional analyses of FF because it is not necessarily contrastive and does not guarantee the traditional articulation of the sentence into a new and a given part. The results of a syntactic experiment on the distribution and interpretation of FF in European Spanish show that speakers accept FF not only in the corrective but also in the mirative context. The acceptability of mirative FF thus proves that FF in Spanish is not exclusively limited to contrast or linked to information-structural requirements such as the new-old information distinction. FF may also be used to express a mirative implicature that requires a set of focal alternatives in order to be interpreted correctly.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)119–146
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - May 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • Spanish
  • contrast
  • conventional implicature
  • focus fronting
  • information structure
  • mirative focus
  • 6121 Languages

Cite this