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Syntactic and semantic restrictions in the licensing of subjects in Cimbrian main clauses

Zurück zum Heft: Linguistische Berichte Heft 263
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The paper provides a comprehensive study of the syntactic and informational structural restrictions ruling the distribution of subjects in main clauses of Cimbrian, a Germanic dialect spoken in the village of Luserna, Trentino (Northern Italy). In this variety post-verbal subjects necessitate the presence of a subject clitic pronoun or of the element da (which is homophonous with the locative pronoun “here”) cliticized onto the finite verb, while a preverbal subject excludes these elements. Based on novel data collected in our own fieldwork, we provide a theoretical account of the distribution of da in Cimbrian showing that da lexicalises Fin° and its distribution is constrained by the V2 nature of Cimbrian. We then show that discourse-given NP subjects are licensed in [Spec,FinP], where Fin° serves to anchor the utterance to the context. The cases in which a subject does not raise to [Spec, FinP] and clitics or da lexicalise Fin° in order to anchor the utterance to the context are twofold: i) the subject is semantically inert to anchor the utterance and ii) the subject is syntactically inert to move into the position required for anchoring.