‘Bare quantifiers’ and topics in Italian

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The concept expressed by expressions like <i>qualcosa </i>(&#8216;something&#8217;)/<i>qualcuno</i> &#8216;someone&#8217; has given rise to a large amount of literature. In most cases, the semantics of these markers is assimilated to the existential operator &#8707;. Needless to say, their actual use and their distributional constraints show a very complex <i>tableau</i> and this tableau cannot be reduced to logical operators. Particular attention is paid to a special pattern of Italian syntax in which these bare quantifiers can be used as topics. Some kind of Virtual Concord is argued to be at stake, which is somewhat reminiscent of Negative Concord: the Topic referent can act as a particular type of free-choice item, provided free-choiceness harmonizes with the Virtual character of the event referred to. Such a harmonization process is taken to interact with partitivity and contrast. It is shown as well that in the case of <i>qualcosa</i> &#8216;something&#8217;, clitic resumption of the left-dislocated &#8216;bare quantifier&#8217; does not correlate with referentiality; rather, oscillation in the gender of the selected resumptive clitic is taken to rely on the still ongoing lexicalization of <i>qualcosa</i> (&#60; <i>qualche</i> <i>cosa</i>) (cf. Floricic (2003)).The most general initial notions, and therefore also the most frequently employed, are the relations of time and place. These are comprehended by every one, and are a sort of mental compartments in which the intellect easily places all that it can apprehend. Here we have the reasons why stories begin thus, &#8220;In Ephesus there was formerly,&#8221; etc. (&#8230;) One easily gains a starting-point by means of these general notions, just as one takes the cardinal points of the compass in an unknown country. (Weil, H. 1887. <i>The order of words in the Ancient languages compared with that of the modern languages</i>. Boston: Ginn and Company, p. 31)


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