On different types of clitic clusters

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In this paper, Italian and Bantu clitic clusters are analyzed and compared. I claim that in both language families, pronouns check case in a low clitic position, and in so doing they reverse the order of arguments. In Italian, clitics move to a high clitic position where they check person and number features. Different types of Italian clusters are individuated: they differ syntactically, phonologically, and morphologically. As in Kayne’s (1994) proposal, clusters can be formed either on one single functional head or on adjacent heads; the former type can appear both in enclisis and proclisis, the latter only in proclisis. Clitic pronouns can end with an epenthetic vowel or a class marker/ inflectional morpheme; the former (consonantal clitics) can appear in clitic clusters in any position, the latter (morphologically complex clitics) cannot be the first element in clitic clusters dominated by one single head. Finally, some clusters are inserted as lexical units, others are two independent words: only the former display the linking vowel [e]. The intricate interplay of these (partially) independent properties explains a number of restrictions on clusters found in Italian (and other Romance languages). The hierarchy of person and number features in the high clitic position is also discussed, which explains other restrictions on clusters.


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