Preverbal vowels in wh-questions and declarative sentences in Northern Italian Piacentine dialects
In this paper, we discuss preverbal vocalic segments in interrogative and declarative sentences. Their distribution depends on the type of subject (1sg, 1pl, 2pl vs 2sg, 3sg, 3pl), the presence of other preverbal clitics, and the verb tense (present vs present perfect). We show that two different types of preverbal vocalic segments should be differentiated: an “interrogative vowel” (in main wh-questions) and a “subject field vowel” (in embedded wh-questions and in declarative sentences). The two vowels realize different heads of the clausal skeleton (in the CP and the IP layer, respectively), can be found in one and the same dialect, and can co-occur in one and the same clause. Both types of vowels appear to be incompatible with other preverbal clitics in some contexts, and the presence/ absence of the preverbal vowel in sentences with auxiliaries is predictable based on the quality of the auxiliary-initial segment (consonant vs vowel).