An apparent ‘number case constraint’ in Romanian

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Romanian pronominal plural clitics differ from their singular clitic counterparts in that they exhibit dative-accusative case syncretism. This contrast correlates with an asymmetry in the combinatorial possibilities of plural vs singular clitics: namely, plural clitics in direct object position in Romanian affect the acceptability of clitic clusters, as confirmed in quantitative acceptability judgements with multiple informants. Rather than invoking a new ‘Number Case Constraint’ governing the distribution of clitics, we link the Romanian data to familiar facts from Leísta dialects of Spanish, which manifest case syncretism between dative and animate accusative 3rd person clitics. We implement the fact that 1st and 2nd person plural clitics in Romanian are case-syncretic by implicationally marking them as inherently [+animate] in the syntax. The severe degradation in acceptability of clusters with direct object plural clitics is accounted for by following aspects of Adger & Harbour’s (2007) proposal for the connection between syncretism and the Person Case Constraint.


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