Functional vowels in main questions in Northern Italian dialects

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The goal of this paper is to describe the distribution and to explain the nature of the vowels that appear in preverbal position in main questions in many Northern Italian dialects. We use data primarily from the town of Donceto in the province of Piacenza, as well as data from many other Northern Italian dialects, including other Emilian dialects, Piedmontese dialects, many Veneto dialects, Friulian dialects, and standard Italian. We suggest that the preverbal vowels are the spell-out of functional heads of the CP and IP layers, and that they should be distinguished from true subject clitic pronouns. Furthermore, the functional vowels can realize different functional heads in one and the same dialect, and they can have a different distribution in different dialects.


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