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Article

Pronoun Systems in the Romance Languages  

Diego Pescarini

Personal pronouns—in particular, clitic pronouns—show the greatest variation across the Romance languages. Modern varieties and historical vernaculars exhibit a kaleidoscopic degree of variation with respect to several syntactic parameters (placement, climbing, doubling, interpretation, etc.). Despite the apparent chaotic variation, some descriptive generalizations can be established on the basis of a rich and growing array of data.

Article

The Acquisition of Clitics in the Romance Languages  

Anna Gavarró

The Romance languages are characterized by the existence of pronominal clitics. Third person pronominal clitics are often, but not always, homophonous with the definite determiner series in the same language. Both pronominal and determiner clitics emerge early in child acquisition, but their path of development varies depending on clitic type and language. While determiner clitic acquisition is quite homogeneous across Romance, there is wide cross-linguistic variation for pronominal clitics (accusative vs. partitive vs. dative, first/second person vs. third person); the observed differences in acquisition correlate with syntactic differences between the pronouns. Acquisition of pronominal clitics is also affected if a language has both null objects and object clitics, as in European Portuguese. The interpretation of Romance pronominal clitics is generally target-like in child grammar, with absence of Pronoun Interpretation problems like those found in languages with strong pronouns. Studies on developmental language impairment show that, as in typical development, clitic production is subject to cross-linguistic variation. The divergent performance between determiners and pronominals in this population points to the syntactic (as opposed to phonological) nature of the deficit.

Article

Clitics and Clitic Clusters in Morphology  

Eulalia Bonet

Clitics can be defined as prosodically defective function words. They can belong to a number of syntactic categories, such as articles, pronouns, prepositions, complementizers, negative adverbs, or auxiliaries. They do not generally belong to open classes, like verbs, nouns, or adjectives. Their prosodically defective character is most often manifested by the absence of stress, which in turn correlates with vowel reduction in those languages that have it independently; sometimes the clitic can be just a consonant or a consonant cluster, with no vowel. This same prosodically defective character forces them to attach either to the word that follows them (proclisis) or to the word that precedes them (enclisis); in some cases they even appear inside a word (mesoclisis or endoclisis). The word to which a clitic attaches is called the host. In some languages (like some dialects of Italian or Catalan) enclitics can surface as stressed, but the presence of stress can be argued to be the result of assignment of stress to the host-clitic complex, not to the clitic itself. One consequence of clitics being prosodically defective is that they cannot be the sole element of an utterance, for instance as an answer to some question; they need to always appear with a host. A useful distinction is that between simple clitics and special clitics. Simple clitics often have a nonclitic variant and appear in the expected syntactic position for nonclitics of their syntactic category. Much more attention has been paid in the literature to special clitics. Special clitics appear in a designated position within the clause or within the noun phrase (or determiner phrase). In several languages certain clitics must appear in second position, within the clause, as in most South Slavic languages, or within the noun phrase, as in Kwakw'ala. The pronominal clitics of Romance languages or Greek must have the verb as a host and appear in a position different from the full noun phrase. A much debated question is whether the position of special clitics is the result of syntactic movement, or whether other factors, morphological or phonological, intervene as well or are the sole motivation for their position. Clitics can also cluster, with some languages allowing only sequences of two clitics, and other languages allowing longer sequences. Here one relevant question is what determines the order of the clitics, with the main avenues of analysis being approaches based on syntactic movement, approaches based on the types of morphosyntactic features each clitic has, and approaches based on templates. An additional issue concerning clitic clusters is the incompatibility between specific clitics when combined and the changes that this incompatibility can provoke in the form of one or more of the clitics. Combinations of identical or nearly identical clitics are often disallowed, and the constraint known as the Person-Case Constraint (PCC) disallows combinations of clitics with a first or second person accusative clitic (a direct object, DO, clitic) and a third person (and sometimes also first or second person) dative clitic (an indirect object, IO, clitic). In all these cases either one of the clitics surfaces with the form of another clitic or one of the clitics does not surface; sometimes there is no possible output. Here again both syntactic and morphological approaches have been proposed.

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

Dislocation in the Romance Languages: Syntax, Semantics, Discourse, Acquisition  

Davide Garassino

Dislocations are syntactic constructions consisting of a core sentence and a detached constituent located outside the clause, either at its left (left dislocation) or at its right (right dislocation). Typically, although not invariably, the clause hosts a resumptive element, often a pronoun, which is co-referent with the detached constituent. This separation between an extra-clausal element and the sentence led to the classification of dislocations as “non-canonical” or “marked” syntactic structures. Dislocations are attested in many language families, to the extent that they can be regarded as a language universal. However, these constructions have predominantly been examined in Germanic and Romance languages, both in formal and functional frameworks. Left and right dislocations are usually analyzed as topic-marking structures, in which the referent of the detached element has the function of sentence topic. However, specific types of topics appear to preferentially occur in either left or right dislocation. For example, left dislocations often convey topic shifts and contrastive topics, while continuous (or familiar) topics are more commonly found in right dislocations. Nonetheless, corpus-based research unveiled a more nuanced situation. Furthermore, interactionally oriented studies also suggest that exploring dislocations in spontaneous conversations is crucial for comprehending their broad functional spectrum. Thus, dislocations present many intriguing challenges to Romance linguistics, including the questions, To what extent do left and right dislocations differ syntactically and pragmatically across Romance languages? Are descriptions framed in terms of “topic establishing” and “topic promotion” truly adequate? What are the main prosodic characteristics of left and right dislocations? and What challenges do L1 and L2 learners encounter in the acquisition of these constructions?

Article

Acquisition of Inflection in Romance Languages  

Christophe Parisse

Inflection is present in all Romance languages, even if at times it can be replaced by the use of clitic elements. It is therefore a crucial feature of the language for children to acquire. The acquisition of inflected forms was studied in the nominal, verbal, and adjectival systems because it is present from the very first forms produced by children. Data are presented from the literature for six languages: Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, French, Italian, and Romanian. For all these languages, there exist open access corpus data available on the CHILDES website, which make it possible to have first-hand access to actual spoken data for these languages. Results show that children produce correct forms very early on for the most frequent grammatical elements (by age 2 for most children, but sometimes as early as age 18 months). This includes the use of nouns and determiners in both genders, and the use of verbs in the present, perfect, and imperative forms. Verbs are produced first in the third person, followed by the other persons. Nouns and verbs are used in the singular form before being used in the plural form. Other more complex grammatical forms, such as, for example, the imperfective past tense or the present conditional, emerge only later, and this is probably related to the semantics of the forms rather than their complexity. In most cases, there is correct agreement between noun and determiner, or verb and personal pronoun, or noun and verb. Errors are infrequent, and the nature of the errors can be used as means to study the mechanisms of language acquisition.

Article

Grammaticalization in Morphology  

Muriel Norde

Grammaticalization is traditionally defined as the gradual process whereby a lexical item becomes a grammatical item (primary grammaticalization), which may be followed by further formal and semantic reduction (secondary grammaticalization). It is a composite change that may affect both phonological, morphological, syntactic, and semantic-pragmatic properties of a morpheme, and it is found in all the world’s languages. On the level of morphology, grammaticalization has been shown to have various effects, ranging from the loss of inflection in primary grammaticalization to the development of bound morphemes or new inflectional classes in secondary grammaticalization. Well-known examples include the development of future auxiliaries from motion verbs (e.g., English to be going to), and the development of the Romance inflection future (e.g., French chanter-ai ‘I sing’, chanter-as ‘you sing’, etc., from a verb meaning ‘to have’). Although lexical-grammatical change is overwhelmingly unidirectional, shifts in the reverse direction, called degrammaticalization, have also been shown to occur. Like grammaticalization, degrammaticalization is a composite change, which is characterized by an increase in phonological and semantic substance as well as in morphosyntactic autonomy. Accordingly, the effects on morphology are different from those in grammaticalization. In primary degrammaticalization new inflections may be acquired (e.g., the Welsh verb nôl ‘to fetch,’ from an adposition meaning ‘after’), and erstwhile bound morphemes may become free morphemes (e.g., English ish). As such effects are also found in other types of changes, degrammaticalization needs to be clearly delineated from those. For example, a shift from a minor to a major category (e.g., English ifs and buts) or the lexicalization of bound affixes (isms), likewise result in new inflections, but these are instantaneous changes, not gradual ones.

Article

Head/Dependent Marking  

Yury Lander and Johanna Nichols

Head/dependent marking (or locus of marking) is a typological parameter based on whether syntactic relations, or dependencies, are marked on the head of the relation, on the non-head, on both, on neither, or elsewhere in the constituent. It has been visible in description and comparison for some 30 years, during which time advances in analysis of phrase structure and descriptions of previously unnoticed patterns have revealed some imprecisions and gaps in the typology. The approach has figured in descriptive and theoretical work of various kinds and has proven quite useful as far as it goes, but expansion of descriptive and theoretical work on morphosyntax in the subsequent decades has revealed some gaps and inconsistencies in the original formulation. These can be removed by allowing markers to be assigned not to words but to entire phrases, a move that also allows detached and neutral marking to be more comfortably accommodated in locus theory.

Article

Topicalization in the Romance Languages  

Silvio Cruschina

Topic and topicalization are key notions to understand processes of syntactic and prosodic readjustments in Romance. More specifically, topicalization refers to the syntactic mechanisms and constructions available in a language to mark an expression as the topic of the sentence. Despite the lack of a uniform definition of topic, often based on the notions of aboutness or givenness, significant advances have been made in Romance linguistics since the 1990s, yielding a better understanding of the topicalization constructions, their properties, and their grammatical correlates. Prosodically, topics are generally described as being contained in independent intonational phrases. The syntactic and pragmatic characteristics of a specific topicalization construction, by contrast, depend both on the form of resumption of the dislocated topic within the clause and on the types of topic (aboutness, given, and contrastive topics). We can thus distinguish between hanging topic (left dislocation) (HTLD) and clitic left-dislocation (ClLD) for sentence-initial topics, and clitic right-dislocation (ClRD) for sentence-final dislocated constituents. These topicalization constructions are available in most Romance languages, although variation may affect the type and the obligatory presence of the resumptive element. Scholars working on topic and topicalization in the Romance languages have also addressed controversial issues such as the relation between topics and subjects, both grammatical (nominative) subjects and ‘oblique’ subjects such as dative experiencers and locative expressions. Moreover, topicalization has been discussed for medieval Romance, in conjunction with its alleged V2 syntactic status. Some topicalization constructions such as subject inversion, especially in the non-null subject Romance languages, and Resumptive Preposing may indeed be viewed as potential residues of medieval V2 property in contemporary Romance.

Article

Morphological and Syntactical Variation and Change in Catalan  

Gemma Rigau and Manuel Pérez Saldanya

Catalan is a Romance language closely related to Gallo-Romance languages. However, contact with Spanish since the 15th century has led it to adopt various linguistic features that are closer to those seen in Ibero-Romance languages. Catalan exhibits five broad dialects: Central, Northern, and Balearic, which pertain to the Eastern dialect block, and Northwestern and Valencian, which make up the Western. This article deals with the most salient morphosyntactic properties of Catalan and covers diachronic and diatopic variations. It also offers information about diastratic or sociolinguistic variations, namely standard and non-standard variations. Among the most characteristic morphosyntactic features are the following: 1. Catalan is the only Romance language that exhibits a periphrastic past tense expressed by means of the verb anar ‘go’ + infinitive (Ahir vas cantar ‘Yesterday you sang’). This periphrastic past coexists with a simple past (Ahir cantares ‘Yesterday you sang’). However, Catalan does not have a periphrastic future built with the movement verb go. 2. Demonstratives show a two-term system in most Catalan dialects: aquí ‘here’ (proximal) and allà or allí ‘there’ (distal); but in Valencian and some Northwestern dialects, there is a three-term system. In contrast with other languages that have a two-term system, Catalan uses the proximal demonstrative to express proximity either to the speaker or to the addressee (Aquí on jo soc ‘Here where I am’, Aquí on tu ets ‘There where you are’). 3. Catalan has a complex system of clitic pronouns (or weak object pronouns) which may vary in form according to the point of contact with the verb, proclitically or enclitically; e.g., the singular masculine accusative clitic can have two syllabic forms (el and lo) and an asyllabic one (l’ or ‘l): El saludo ‘I am greeting him’, Puc saludar-lo ‘I can greet him’, L’havies saludat ‘You had greeted him’, Saluda’l ‘Greet him’. 4. Existential constructions may contain the predicate haver-hi ‘there be’, consisting of the locative clitic hi and the verb haver ‘have’ (Hi ha tres estudiants ‘There are three students’) and the copulative verb ser ‘be’ (Tres estudiants ja són aquí ‘Three students are already here’) or other verbs whose behavior can be close to an unaccusative verb when preceded by the clitic hi (Aquí hi treballen forners ‘There are some bakers working here’). 5. The negative polarity adverb no ‘not’ may be reinforced by the adverbs pas or cap in some dialects and can co-occur with negative polarity items (ningú ‘anybody/nobody’, res ‘anything/nothing’, mai ‘never’, etc.). Negative polarity items exhibit negative agreement (No hi ha mai ningú ‘Nobody is ever here’), but they may express positive meaning in some non-declarative syntactic contexts (Si mai vens, truca’m ‘If you ever come, call me’). 6. Other distinguishing items are the interrogative and confirmative particles, the pronominal forms of address, and the personal articles.

Article

Syntax of Ditransitives  

Heidi Harley and Shigeru Miyagawa

Ditransitive predicates select for two internal arguments, and hence minimally entail the participation of three entities in the event described by the verb. Canonical ditransitive verbs include give, show, and teach; in each case, the verb requires an agent (a giver, shower, or teacher, respectively), a theme (the thing given, shown, or taught), and a goal (the recipient, viewer, or student). The property of requiring two internal arguments makes ditransitive verbs syntactically unique. Selection in generative grammar is often modeled as syntactic sisterhood, so ditransitive verbs immediately raise the question of whether a verb may have two sisters, requiring a ternary-branching structure, or whether one of the two internal arguments is not in a sisterhood relation with the verb. Another important property of English ditransitive constructions is the two syntactic structures associated with them. In the so-called “double object construction,” or DOC, the goal and theme both are simple NPs and appear following the verb in the order V-goal-theme. In the “dative construction,” the goal is a PP rather than an NP and follows the theme in the order V-theme-to goal. Many ditransitive verbs allow both structures (e.g., give John a book/give a book to John). Some verbs are restricted to appear only in one or the other (e.g. demonstrate a technique to the class/*demonstrate the class a technique; cost John $20/*cost $20 to John). For verbs which allow both structures, there can be slightly different interpretations available for each. Crosslinguistic results reveal that the underlying structural distinctions and their interpretive correlates are pervasive, even in the face of significant surface differences between languages. The detailed analysis of these questions has led to considerable progress in generative syntax. For example, the discovery of the hierarchical relationship between the first and second arguments of a ditransitive has been key in motivating the adoption of binary branching and the vP hypothesis. Many outstanding questions remain, however, and the syntactic encoding of ditransitivity continues to inform the development of grammatical theory.

Article

Pronominal and Expletive Subjects in Germanic  

Gunther De Vogelaer

The syntax ofGermanic subject pronouns is only minimally different from nominal subjects. Germanic has to a large extent dispensed with null subjects, leading to a tendency to also use pronouns to refer to highly accessible subjects and the frequent use of expletive subjects, for instance with weather verbs or in other impersonal constructions. Correspondingly, all Germanic languages at least show some tendency to formally reduce subject pronouns in unstressed positions, and some languages have encoded a more systematic distinction between strong and weak forms, with weak forms developing proper formal and distributional properties. Additional differences between Germanic languages regarding subject pronouns concern the emergence and use of honorifics and the degree to which pronominal reference still reflects nouns’ grammatical gender rather than being replaced with a semantic system encoding biological gender and individuation. Regards expletives, most derive from neuter pronouns es or deictic adverbs der . The main difference within Germanic with respect to their use is whether they function as first-position placeholders (e.g., Icelandic) vis-à-vis languages in which they are generally used in impersonal constructions, also in a post-verbal position (e.g., Dutch). Both the constraints on referential null subjects and the use of expletives in impersonal constructions are typologically rare and have been related to other aspects of Germanic grammar, such as the verb-second property and widespread leveling in the verbal agreement paradigm. Research has also addressed the relationship between subject pronouns and their antecedent, as well as the semantic and pragmatic conditions under which weak pronouns and expletives are used.

Article

South-Eastern Gallo-Romance: Francoprovençal  

Andres M. Kristol

Francoprovençal is on UNESCO’s red list of the world’s most endangered languages. It is in danger of disappearing within one to two generations. Historically spoken in a large region of south-eastern France, northern Italy and French-speaking Switzerland, and lacking political unity, it is not ‘a’ language, but a set of dialects with common characteristics. Lacking any standardisation, its dialects show many of the evolutionary possibilities of Western Romance languages. Long regarded as a late separation from the Oïl area, it was traditionally described as a conservative Gallo-Romance language, rejecting Oïl innovations from about the eighth century onwards. More recent research has shown that its earliest linguistic features date back to the very beginning of the linguistic fragmentation of Galloromania (6th century at the latest); it is therefore just as ‘old’ as the other Gallo-romance languages. It thus has its own characteristic mixture of conservative and innovative phenomena among the Gallo-romance languages.

Article

Italo-Romance: Venetan  

Patrizia Cordin

Venetan belongs to the group of northern Italian dialects, which are characterized by the presence of some phonological and morphological features that are common to French dialects and are attributed to the Celtic substratum. However, numerous traces of the Venetic substratum distinguish the Venetan dialects from the other (Gallo-Italic) dialects. In the linguistic history of the Venetan dialects, Venice played a central role due to the political power achieved by the Venetian Republic and its commercial expansion into many Adriatic and Mediterranean countries. There, the Venetian dialect laid the foundations for the development of a “colonial Venetian,” which has been used for several centuries. In the 21st century, Venetan is still vital in three regions of northeastern Italy (Veneto, Trentino Alto-Adige, Friuli Venezia Giulia), in Istria, and in Dalmatia. Small Venetan-speaking communities are also found elsewhere in Europe as well as Canada, Australia, and North and South America. These were the destination countries for the numerous emigrants who left Veneto between the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. Alongside several structural features that are common to the other northern Italian dialects, Venetan presents some distinctive properties. In phonology, apocope and syncope are restricted and consonant lenition in inter-vowel position is extensive. In verbal morphology, Venetan is characterized by the agglutination of the auxiliary ‘have’ with the clitic ghe, the alternation of the traditional Venetian form [ze] with the form [ɛ] for the auxiliary ‘be’ at present indicative 3rd persons, and the variety of past participle suffixes. In nominal derivation, some suffixes, such as the augmentatives -ón/-óne and -àso and the present participle suffix -ànte (which is used for the formation of nomina agentis) are very productive. In syntax, 2sg and 3sg/pl subject clitics are obligatory; dative and object clitics are used for doubling respectively datives and pronominal objects in the 1st and 2nd person; specific rules govern the structure of direct, indirect, and noncanonical interrogatives. The Venetan lexicon, which developed in several domains, particularly in marine (on the lagoon) and agricultural (on the mainland) contexts, mirrors the history of the region, revealing several traces of different strata (Celtic, Germanic, Greek, Slavic, Jewish, and French).

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.