The irregular forms of the Italian “Passato Remoto”

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Many Italian verbs display complex alternations involving regular/irregular stem forms in the simple past tense, the so-called Passato Remoto. Vogel (1994), Pirelli and Battista (2000), Maiden (2005, 2010) among many others, including traditional neo-grammarian and structuralist accounts, assume that the alternations found in the irregular forms of the Passato Remoto must be accounted for in terms of memorized stem and ending alternants. In this paper, I will argue instead that the best synchronic and diachronic analysis of these alternations involves notions such as roots, abstract morphemes, Readjustment Rules and Impoverishment as expected by the Distributed Morphology (DM) model (Halle and Marantz 1993; Embick 2010; Embick and Marantz 2008). There is no need for memorized stem alternants to account for them.


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