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Article

Morphology of Clitic Pronouns in the Romance Languages  

Berthold Crysmann and Ana R. Luis

Bound weak pronominals, such as French les in Je les ai vu(e)s ‘I have seen them’ or Italian lo in Giovanni lo vuole ‘John wants it’, are generally known in the literature as clitic pronouns. There are a number of reasons why it has been claimed that these forms behave more like affixes than like independent word forms. Among other aspects, it has been shown that the behavior of Romance clitic pronouns inside the clitic cluster is morphophonologically and morphotactically identical to that of affixes. Likewise, the fact that clitic pronouns both trigger non-productive allomorphy on the verb and undergo allomorphic variation indicates that clitic pronouns attach to the verb in the morphology rather than in the syntax. In this article, we survey the main morphological properties that have been previously documented for Romance clitic pronouns. We show that the Romance languages exhibit a variety of morphological idiosyncrasies and that such variation poses serious challenges to general syntactic principles. Having demonstrated the affixal nature of clitic systems, we then turn to more controversial aspects of clitic pronouns, namely clitic climbing with auxiliaries and complex predicates. These contexts, which pose interesting challenges to both morphology and syntax, have been commonly used to weaken the inflectional approach to clitic pronouns. We survey existing lexicalist accounts of clitic systems and show how the interaction between clitics and syntax can be captured within an inflectional analysis of clitic pronouns.

Article

SE Constructions in the Romance Languages  

Diego Pescarini

SE constructions across the Romance languages have been classified on the basis of syntactic and semantic evidence. Although the terminology varies, at least four main types of SE can be identified: three constructions in which SE can be interpreted as an argument (the reflexive/reciprocal SE, the arbitrary/impersonal SE, the middle SE) and a residual set of SE-marked predicates in which SE has not a clear pronominal status. Evidence from SE constructions is a crucial test bed for theories concerning the syntactic mapping of argument and event structure.

Article

Segmental Phonology, Phonotactics, and Syllable Structure in the Romance Languages  

Stephan Schmid

From the perspective of phonological typology, the Romance languages exhibit considerable diversity, although they all originate from the same ancestor language, that is, “Vulgar Latin.” Most consonant inventories are of average size, with 20–23 phonemes, whereas typologically marked segments (e.g., palatal obstruents or retroflex consonants) only occur in a minority of Romance varieties. Instead, the number of vowel phonemes varies substantially, ranging from 5 in Spanish to 16 in French (which features front rounded vowels and nasal vowels). Substantial differences also exist regarding the treatment of unstressed vowels, which are subject to various degrees of reduction—including their deletion in both diachrony and synchrony. Consequently, such phonological processes yield various degrees of phonotactic complexity: While most Romance varieties are commonly counted among the so-called syllable languages, with a strong preference for open syllables and relatively simple consonant clusters ordered along the sonority scale, some dialects depart from this general tendency, allowing complex consonant clusters that may also run against the sonority sequencing generalization.

Article

Social Variation in Germanic  

Tore Kristiansen

The spread of Germanic-speaking people and their language(s) has been extraordinarily expansive and extensive and has produced variation under multifarious socio-historical conditions—first as “dialect continua” in Western and Northern Europe, later as “language mixing” of many kinds under colonial situations, and, in the early 21st century, as “urban youth styles” in multicultural or multilinguistic parts of bigger cities. Basically, the social conditions include relationships of domination and subordination at three social levels—macro, meso, and micro—and across three types of space—geographic, social, and situational. Spread happens with contact between speakers. This contact is always social (at all levels and in all spaces) and has an objective aspect (social roles and patterns of communication) and a subjective aspect (language-related ideologies). The pivotal question in this picture is why language speakers in interactional contact vary (and potentially change) their language. What is the driving force in language variation (and change)? Are the processes of variation (and potentially change) automatic/mechanic by nature, or are they sociopsychological/ideological? Of course, scholars working in the discipline of variationist sociolinguistics (now 60-plus years old) have not all related to the various ingredients of the preceding picture in the same way and with the same research interests, so the gamut of questions asked and answers given is broad.

Article

Syllable Structure in Germanic  

Laura Catharine Smith

Syllable structure has helped shape the Germanic languages and, remarkably, the syllable template inherited from Germanic has remained relatively stable over nearly 2,000 years since our first written Germanic records. Onsets permit anywhere from zero to three consonants with only /ŋ/ barred from forming a word-initial simple onset. As for complex onsets, English has simplified many inherited clusters, for example, /kn/➔[n], while Yiddish has developed a wider range of possible clusters. What they have in common is that two-consonant clusters are formed from obstruents+sonorants, conforming to the Sonority Sequencing Generalization (SSG) stipulating that sonority should fall from the nucleus toward the syllable edges. This generalization, however, is violated by three-consonant clusters, namely sequences of a sibilant plus two consonants, usually an obstruent+liquid. The monophthongs and diphthongs filling the nucleus (as well as syllabic sonorants in some varieties) have a symbiotic relationship with the following coda mediated via the rhyme. Because stressed syllables are preferably bimoraic as per Prokosch’s Law, vowels are long in open syllables or when followed by at most one consonant. However, before two consonants (including orthographically), vowels are typically short. This plays out in unique ways in various languages. In some Scandinavian languages, consonants are lengthened after short vowels, thereby building contrasts via not only vowel length, but also consonant length, for example, Icelandic [ma:n] ‘young lady, acc.’ versus [man:] ‘man, acc.’ Thus, some scholars have argued that vowel length is allophonic in these Scandinavian languages, but phonemic in languages like German and English, for example, bit [bɪt] versus beat [bijt]. As for coda consonants, the SSG typically applies, creating a large number of clusters that are generally mirror images of permissible onsets. Many coda clusters have the shape sonorant+obstruent or liquid+nasal. These latter clusters may be broken up, for example, Afrikaans fil(ə)m ‘film’, or simplified in some languages, for example, Norwegian nd clusters➔n. Word finally, clusters tend to be more complex both in the coda, as well as due to the coronal appendix consonants added to the end of the coda. These appendices more often than not coincide with morphological complexity, for example, German Gast+s ‘guest, gen.sg.’, though not always, for example, Dutch herf-st ‘autumn’. Indeed, rules for syllabification highlight the differences between word-initial and medial onsets because maximizing the onset also does not hold across some morphemic boundaries, for example, Lie.be ‘love’ but lieb.lich ‘lovely’. Furthermore, while languages like Dutch tend to maximize onsets like German and English, they also balance that with the need for stressed syllables to be minimally bimoraic leading to the syllabification as-ter, for instance, rather than *a-ster with the onset maximized. And, lastly, following the Contact Law, syllable contacts are more preferred when there is a strong onset following a weak coda. This preference can account for differential syllable divisions, for example, p.l in Icelandic but .pl in Faroese, as well as ultimately changes in onsets such as West Germanic gemination and glide strengthening. What makes each language unique is how they have individually adapted the syllable template through time. It is these differences that provide a more complete perspective of Germanic syllable structure and form the basis for the current discussion.

Article

Verb Formation by Means of Suffixes in the Romance Languages  

Elmar Schafroth

Suffixation is one of the most frequent and most productive word-formation processes in the Romance languages. One branch of it, the formation of verbs through suffixes, is particularly productive, especially regarding the formation of causative verbs with learned or borrowed verb stems (e.g., Fr. glorifier ‘to glorify’, Sp. alfabetizar ‘to alphabetize’, Pt. modernizar ‘to modernize’, Rom. a steriliza ‘to sterilize’). Other derivation techniques, however, such as evaluative verb suffixation (e.g., It. dormicchiare ‘to doze’), are not or are only slightly productive but semantically very complex. In this article, all common verb formations by means of suffixes in all major and some minor Romance languages are treated systematically. A fundamental division is made into non-evaluative and evaluative verbal suffixations. By considering Latin, the etymological foundations and the pre-Romance derivation suffixes are also briefly touched on. Finally, using dictionaries and digital corpora, the aspect of productivity of word formation patterns is considered. As far as evaluative derivation is concerned, it has been shown that the two parameters of quantity and quality across all Romance languages are neither stable nor predictable for any of the relevant suffixes but depend on the meaning of the underlying verb, the situational context, and the attitude of the speakers.

Article

Agreement in the Romance Languages  

Michele Loporcaro

This article examines agreement in the Romance languages in light of current studies and with the toolkit of linguistic typology. I will first introduce the definition of agreement assumed in the article, demonstrating its superiority to the alternatives proposed in the literature, and then move on to consider empirical data from all branches of the Romance language family, illustrating how agreement works in all its components. This will require dealing with, in order, the controllers and targets of agreement, then the morphosyntactic features that are active in the agreement rules, then the conditions that may constrain those rules, and finally the syntactic domains in which agreement takes place. In the first half of this overview, the focus will be mainly on what is common to all Romance languages, while in the second half I will concentrate on the phenomena of agreement that are remarkable, in that they are rare and/or unexpected, from a crosslinguistic perspective. It will become clear from this survey that there is no dearth of such unusual phenomena, and that the Romance language family, especially through its lesser-known nonstandard local vernaculars (which will be treated here with equal dignity to the major literary languages), holds in store considerable richness that must be taken into serious consideration by any language typologist interested in agreement.

Article

Clitic Doubling in the Romance Languages  

Cecilia Poletto and Francesco Pinzin

The phenomenon of clitic doubling is very widespread in different forms in the Romance languages. It can be defined as the double occurrence of the same constituent twice inside a single clausal unit; one of the two is represented by a clitic while the other has the properties of a whole phrase. It can target essentially all arguments of the verb and is often sensitive to the semantic/pragmatic properties (like definiteness/specificity, topicality, animacy) of the phrasal doublee so that XPs with these properties are more frequently doubled than XPs that do not have them, although there are languages in which doubling covers the whole spectrum of a given argument. A robust empirical generalization is that direct objects can be doubled only in languages that also double indirect objects, while there is no relation with subject clitic doubling.

Article

The Impact of Language Contact on North Germanic  

Steffen Höder

North Germanic has been in constant contact with other languages since prehistoric times. Early contact scenarios include the contact with Uralic languages within Scandinavia itself. Increasing contact with Central Europe from the Early Middle Ages onward entailed the spread of a wider range of linguistic innovations from (or through) Romance and West Germanic languages, while few traces of the Viking Age expansion are found in the lexicon. However, the most significant contact-related changes are due to the Late Medieval contacts between Continental Scandinavian and Latin as well as, crucially, Middle Low German. The increasing integration of Scandinavia into political, economic, and cultural networks within Europe, most notably the influence of the Hanseatic League, resulted in a high number of lexical loans and grammatical innovations but also contributed to a massive simplification of the inflectional system of Continental Scandinavian. From the Early Modern period onward, the Nordic languages went through the same type of contact (with Latin, German, French, and English in particular) as other European languages. A specifically Nordic trait is the linguistic hegemony of Danish which had a considerable impact on the development of the West Nordic languages. In addition, several waves of immigration have resulted in contact-related innovations and the emergence of a new type of urban varieties.

Article

Morphologization and the Boundary Between Morphology and Phonology in the Romance Languages  

Paul O'Neill

This article analyses, from a Romance perspective, the concept of morphologization and seeks to answer the following question: At what point does a historically proven phonological cause-and-effect relationship, whereby phonological feature X causes and determines phonological feature Y, cease to hold and the dephonologized Y element stand as a marker of some morphological distinction? The question is relevant to cases in which the original phonological conditioning element is still present and where it has disappeared. I explain that the answer to this question depends entirely on one’s conception of morphology and phonology. I argue against theories that adhere to the principle of lexical minimization and have a static conception of morphology, which is restricted to the concatenation of idiosyncratic morphemes. These theories are forced by their theoretical underpinnings, which are often ideological and not supported by robust empirical evidence, to explain morphologized phenomena as being synchronically derived by phonology. This approach comes at a huge cost: the model of phonology is endowed with powerful tools to make the analysis fit the theory and which ultimately diminishes the empirical content and plausibility of the phonological hypotheses; such approaches also constitute serious problems for language acquisition and learning. I argue for more dynamic and abstractive models of morphology, which do not impose strict restrictions on lexical storage. I ultimately view morphologization as an instance of morphologically conditioned phonology and uphold that there is no strict boundary between the phonology and morphology but both systems overlap and interact. I analyze data and phonological explanations of metaphony in nouns and verbs in Italo-Romance, plural formation in Spanish and Portuguese, the distribution of velar allomorphy in the Italian and Spanish verbs, and the distribution of verbal stress in Surmiran Romansh and Spanish. With reference to the latter, the contribution dedicates significant space exploring the extent to which the diphthong/monophthong alternation in Spanish, and different types of allomorphy in Surmiran Romansh, is a matter of phonologically conditioned allomorphy or morphologically conditioned phonology.