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Microparametric variation in Old ItaloRomance syntax

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Abstract

New evidence is presented from two under-studied Old Romance varieties, Old Sicilian and Old Sardinian, to assess whether they instantiate V2 systems, as predicted under Benincà’s (1983–4) account of Old Romance word order. We suggest that Old Sicilian is a V2 system, evidenced by strong matrix/embedded asymmetries in word order, the limited distribution of V1 clauses and the makeup of the matrix left periphery. A significant finding, however, is that Old Sardinian is a form of verb-initial system, which differs in certain key areas of the syntax from other Old Romance varieties. Our central claim is that both varieties share the microparametric property of a uPhi feature on a C-head in matrix clauses, whilst the locus of this feature in embedded contexts, the position occupied by subjects and the parametric makeup of the left periphery is subject to microvariation across varieties. This leads to a re-evaluation of Benincà’s (2004, 245) definition of an “abstract Medieval Romance” word order.

References

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