Epistemic adverbs, the prosody-syntax interface, and the theory of phases

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Epistemic adverbs in Italian (e.g., <i>probabilmente</i> &#8216;probably&#8217;) can appear in several positions. Cinque (1999) proposed that they always occupy the same position above IP and that the various orders are derived via movement of the other phrases around them. In this paper I consider contrasts between sentences where these adverbs are associated with a &#8220;normal intonation&#8221; and those where they are associated with a parenthetical (comma) intonation. To provide an account for the distribution of parenthetical adverbs, I appeal to Giorgi (2011, to appear). I consider parentheticals as syntactically <i>integrated</i> structures, rejecting adjunction and adopting the cartographic approach, based on Kayne&#8217;s (1994) Linear Correspondence Axiom. As for the non-parenthetical occurrences, I propose that there are two basic positions for these adverbs, one for each phase: above v&#42;P and above IP (Cinque&#8217;s position). The existence of a low left periphery above v&#42;P agrees has also been recently hypothesized for other phenomena in Old (Poletto, 2006 and to appear) and Modern Italian (Belletti, 2004).


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