Expletives, datives, and the tension between morphology and syntax

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Expletive <i>there </i>and its closest counterparts in other languages are not expletives in Chomsky’s sense (merged directly into a sentential Spec position). They are instead instances of deictic elements originating within their associate (in a way that has something in common with Moro 1997 and, more so, with Sabel 2000, though the proposal made here ties expletive <i>there </i>more closely to other instances of <i>there </i>than do these earlier works). The present proposal sheds new syntactic light on the definiteness effect, as well as on the comparative syntax of possessives and existentials. In some languages, e.g., Paduan, an expletive can be “imported” from existential (sub)sentences into possessive (sub)sentences and from there into dative sentences, giving the impression in the last case of syncretism between deictic clitic and dative clitic, but the correct, more syntactic and less morphological, analysis is that in such languages the deictic clitic is notitself a dative clitic, though it cooccurs with a dative clitic that is silent.


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