Variation and change in morphology and syntax

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Romance past participle agreement in perfective periphrastics, it is argued, has to be analyzed as object agreement. This paper provides a general characterization of Romance object agreement in a typological perspective (Section 2) and then discusses the different diachronic developments of the Proto-Romance rule into the daughter languages (Section 3). The results suggest that change affecting the syntactic working or the morphological marking of agreement can be initiated at either the morphological, the morphosyntactic or the syntactic levels. It may proceed independently on either without affecting the others or may else have repercussions beyond the component from which it started. Special attention is devoted (Section 4) to a case study from a southern Italo-Romance dialect in which syntactic change and the resulting synchronic rule were sensitive to morphology, in a way that is excluded on deductive grounds under many current theories of the morphology-syntax interplay.


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