Definiteness effect and the role of the coda in existential constructions

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The Definiteness Effect (DE) in existential contexts appears as a robust constraint in some languages (Spanish) while it seems to be absent in others (Italian, Catalan). However, a closer inspection of Italian and Catalan data shows that the DE has some presence in those languages as well, when the coda of the existential is explicit and occurs inside the VP. This paper investigates the effects produced by the coda on definiteness, and connects such effects to other constraints on the licensing of postverbal subjects, all ultimately tied to nformation structure. I suggest that a classbetween definiteness and Focus structure is at the origin of the DE, when definite expressions resist insertion into pure thetic or Broad Focus sentences.


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