Ema Živković

DOI Number
First page
Last page


Linguistic utterances can convey content which represents the speaker’s main point and is considered to be at-issue, as well as secondary content which is interpreted as not-at-issue. A large number of diverse expressions which carry some kind of not-at-issue content have been identified. The present paper contributes to the ongoing investigation of one group of such expressions, non-restrictive relative clauses (NRRCs), in English as a foreign language. The starting point of the paper is an approach developed by Jasinskaja (2016), which accounts for at-issue status within the general theory of discourse interpretation. An important prediction that it makes is that final NRRCs connected with their main clauses via coordinating discourse relations should express more at-issue behavior than final NRRCs connected with their main clauses via subordinating discourse relations. Relying on this approach, the present paper aims to investigate the way Serbian EFL students interpret the at-issue status of NRRCs and to compare the results to the existing data in English (Živković 2016). The direct rejection test (Tonhauser 2012) was used to diagnose the at-issue status of the test items, which involved the manipulation of coordinating and subordinating discourse relations between main clauses and NRRCs. The overall results indicated that the percentage of rejections targeting coordinate NRRCs was significantly higher than the percentage of subordinate NRRC rejections. Comparing these results to the ones obtained in English showed that Serbian EFL students performed at the same level as native speakers of English when interpreting the at-issue status of English NRRCs.


(not-)at-issue status, non-restrictive relative clause, appositive relative clause, continuative relative clause, discourse relations, English as a foreign language

Full Text:



AnderBois, S., Brasoveanu, A. & Henderson, R., (2010), "Crossing the appositive-at-issue meaning boundary", Semantics and Linguistic Theory 20: pp. 328–346.

Asher, N. & Lascarides, A., (2003), Logics of Conversation, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Chierchia, G. & McConnell-Ginet, S., (2000), Meaning and Grammar: An Introduction to Semantics, MIT Press, Cambridge.

Cornilescu, A., (1981), "Non-restrictive relative clauses: An essay in semantic description", Revue Roumaine de Linguistique 26: pp. 41–67.

Depraetere, I., (1996), "Foregrounding in English relative clauses", Linguistics 34: pp. 699–731.

Faller, M., (2002), Semantics and Pragmatics of Evidentials in Cuzco Quechua, Doctoral dissertation, Stanford University.

von Fintel, K., (2004), "Would you believe it? The king of France is back! (Presuppositions and truth-value intuitions) ", In: Bezuidenhout, A. & Reimer, M. (eds.) Descriptions and Beyond (pp. 315–341), Oxford University Press, Oxford.

von Fintel, K. & Gillies, A., (2007), "An opinionated guide to epistemic modality", In: Gendler, T. S. & Hawthorne, J. (eds.) Oxford Studies in Epistemology, Vol. 2 (pp. 32–62), Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Halliday, M. A. K. & Hasan, R., (1976), Cohesion in English, Longman, London.

Holler, A., (2008), "A discourse-relational approach to continuation", In: Benz, A. & Kühnlein, P. (eds.) Constraints in Discourse (pp. 249–266), John Benjamins Publishing Company, Amsterdam.

Jasinskaja, K., (2016), Not at issue any more, Ms. available at

Jasinskaja, K. & Karagjosova, E., (2016), Rhetorical Relations, Ms. available at

Jespersen, O., (1970), A Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles (Vol. 3), George Allen & Unwin LTD, London.

Kehler, A., (2002), Coherence, Reference, and the Theory of Grammar, CSLI, Stanford.

Koev, T., (2011), "Evidentiality and temporal distance learning", Semantics and Linguistic Theory 21: pp. 115–134.

Koev, T., (2013), Apposition and the Structure of Discourse, Doctoral dissertation, Rutgers University.

Loock, R., (2007), "Appositive relative clauses and their functions in discourse", Journal of pragmatics 39, Vol. 2: pp. 336–362.

Mann, W. C. & Thompson, S., (1988), "Rhetorical Structure Theory: Toward a functional theory of text organization", Text & Talk 8, Vol. 3: pp. 243–281.

Murray, S., (2010), Evidentiality and the Structure of Speech Acts, Doctoral dissertation, Rutgers University.

Murray, S., (2014), "Varieties of update", Semantics & Pragmatics 7, Vol. 2: pp. 1–53.

Papafragou, A., (2006), "Epistemic modality and truth conditions", Lingua 116: pp. 1688–1702.

Polanyi, L., (1988), "A formal model of the structure of discourse", Journal of Pragmatics 12: pp. 601–638.

Potts, C., (2005), The Logic of Conventional Implicatures, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

R Core Team, (2013), R: A language and environment for statistical computing, R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Retrieved from

Roberts, C., (1996), "Information structure: Towards an integrated formal theory of pragmatics", In: Yoon, J. H. & Kathol, A. (eds.) OSU Working Papers in Linguistics 49: Papers in Semantics (pp. 91–136), The Ohio State University Department of Linguistics, Ohio.

Simons, M., Tonhauser, J., Beaver, D. & Roberts, C., (2010), "What projects and why", Semantics and Linguistic Theory 20: pp. 309–327.

Syrett, K. & Koev, T., (2015), "Experimental evidence for the truth conditional contribution and shifting information status of appositives", Journal of Semantics 32, Vol. 3: pp. 525–577.

Tonhauser, J., (2012), "Diagnosing (not-)at-issue content", Semantics of Under-Represented Languages of the Americas 6: pp. 239–254.

Webber, B. L., (1991), "Structure and ostension in the interpretation of discourse deixis", Natural Language and Cognitive Processes 2, Vol. 6: pp. 107–135.

Xue, J. & Onea, E., (2011), "Correlation between presupposition projection and at-issueness: An empirical study", In: Roberts, C., Tonhauser, J. & Kierstead, G. (eds.) Proceedings of the ESSLLI 2011 Workshop on Projective Meaning, Ljubljana.

Zeevat, H., (2011), "Rhetorical relations", In: Maienborn, C., Von Heusinger, K. & Portner, P. (eds.) Semantics: An International Handbook of Natural Language and Meaning (pp. 946–970), De Gruyter Mouton, Boston.

Živković, E., (2016), The at-issue status of appositive relative clauses: Evidence for a discourse-based approach, Master’s thesis, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

Živković, E., (2017), ‘The at-issue status of non-restrictive relative clauses: A contrastive analysis of English and Serbian’, Master’s thesis, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Niš, Niš.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN 0354-4702 (Print)

ISSN 2406-0518 (Online)