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Historische Linguistik

Quantifier, Focus and Topic Movement: A View on Old Italian Object Preposing 


Zurück zum Heft: Linguistische Berichte Heft 224
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In this article I take into account OV orders found in Old Italian which have gone unnoticed in the literature up to now. I will show that there are two types of OV constructions with different properties: one similar to scrambling which is related to information structure and targets XPs placed in front of the past participle. The construction is insensitive to the type of constituent moved, which can be the direct or indirect object, a selected or unselected PP or even a verbal modifier or a (low) adverb and more than one XP can be scrambled. The same type of phenomenon can be observed inside the DP, where adjectives and object PPs can be scrambled in front of the head noun.

The second type of OV construction applies obligatorily to bare quantifiers, which are placed in a dedicated position located higher than the scrambling position mentioned above. Given the different properties of the two OV orders and the different location of the two, I will assume that the process yielding OV orders with DPs is different from the one that yield OV with quantifiers, as suggested by the comparison with other languages.

Moreover, the fact that the scrambling construction is related to information structure gives the impression of optionality, and could be interpreted on the basis of the double base hypothesis, according to which speakers have two grammars. I will argue that this is not necessary and that the complex distribution of Old Italian can be made sense of on the basis of one single grammar, provided the correct distinctions are made.