On the Existence of Null Complementizers in Old French

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This paper considers apparent null complementizers in Old French, a phenomenon typically considered by philologists to be parataxis, or a juxtaposition of two main clauses (cf. Foulet 1982, Jensen 1990, Moignet 1988); recent studies within the Minimalist framework (e.g., Bošković & Lasnik 2003, Epstein et al. 2005 and Kishimoto 2006) argue for the existence of null complementizers. This paper proposes that subordinate phrases apparently headed by a null complementizer in Old French are in fact lexically selected CPs with an EPP feature in C. We argue that subordinate clauses in the subjunctive provide evidence against the traditional parataxis analysis, as the mood is clearly lexically selected for by the main verb. Our analysis accounts not only for the distribution of complementizer phrases not headed by a complementizer in OF, but also for their loss diachronically, as the EPP feature of subordinate C was lost in the evolution from OF to MF.


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