A noun or a noun phrase can be focused (contrastively) by different means. Among the most commonly used strategies in the APiCS languages, we find cleft constructions. A cleft construction is a biclausal construction consisting of a focus clause and a background clause (in the APiCS languages, the background clause always follows the focus). The focus clause consists of the focus (i.e. the focused noun phrase) and normally a highlighter, either a copula or a focus particle, as in (1) (with a copula) and (2) (with a focus particle).
If the highlighter is not a copula, a focus construction is not recognizable as a cleft unless the background clause is marked by a relative particle. Thus, cleft constructions must have either a copula highlighter or a relative-marked background clause or both.
Another strategy is fronting of the noun phrase, with or without a focus particle. And still another possibility is to focus the noun in situ, i.e. without moving it outside the clause, but with a focus particle.
Note that many languages have two or more focusing strategies; focusing solely through intonation is not considered here.
The following nine values are distinguished; the first five are types of cleft constructions, and values 6-8 are types of focus fronting constructions.
|Cleft with copula before focus||19||12||31|
|Cleft with copula after focus||2||4||6|
|Cleft with focus particle before focus||3||8||11|
|Cleft with focus particle after focus||0||6||6|
|Bare cleft (without highlighter)||5||10||15|
|Fronting with particle before focus||3||5||8|
|Fronting with particle after focus||7||6||13|
|Bare fronting (without particle)||2||3||5|
|In situ focusing (with particle)||3||3||6|
Value 1 (cleft with copula before focus) is the most common value. It occurs in 9 Ibero-Romance-based languages, in 17 English-based languages, in 3 Dutch-based languages, in Mauritian Creole, and in Mixed Ma’a/Mbugu. Some languages use a relativizer (example 2), some do not (examples 1 and 3).
Value 2 (cleft with copula after focus) occurs in three English-based languages (Belizean Creole, Vincentian Creole, Nicaraguan Creole English), in Cape Verdean Creole of São Vicente, in Afrikaans, and in Kinubi. In all these languages, the background clause is introduced by a relativizer.
Value 4 (cleft with focus particle after focus) occurs in two Portuguese-based creoles (Angolar, Principense), in two French-based languages (Seychelles Creole, Mauritian Creole), in Nigerian Pidgin, and in Sango.
Value 5 (bare cleft, without highlighter) occurs in seven Ibero-Romance-based languages, in two English-based languages, in five French-based languages, and in Michif.
Value 6 (fronting with particle before focus) occurs in three English-based languages (San Andres Creole English, Nigerian Pidgin, Gullah), in three French-based languages (Louisiana Creole, Reunion Creole, Tayo), in Singapore Bazaar Malay, and in the bilingual mixed language Gurindji Kriol.
Most APiCS languages (92%) use one of the possible cleft constructions (values 1-5), and 35% use fronting of the focused noun or noun phrase (values 6-8). As mentioned above, value 1 (copula + focus + background clause) is the most widespread value; it occurs mainly in the Atlantic area (23 out of 31 languages).