The role of the plural system in Romance

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This paper presents a diachronic formal morphosyntactic analysis of the role of the functional projection <i>Pl/Pl* </i>in Romance indefinite nominals, responsible for number and the countability distinction. Reinterpreting the complex system of indefinite nominal determination in two central Romance languages, viz. French and Italian, which both feature an indefinite article and a ‘partitive article’ as a device of ‘nominal classification’ in a broad sense in contrast to Romance languages without such an element, viz. Spanish, it argues that this ‘classification system’ arose when nominal declension in Latin was partially or completely lost. The application of the latest minimalist assumptions on <i>agreement </i>processes in the syntax both to modern Romance languages and to (Late) Latin allows us to describe and explain the obvious differences between French, Italian and Spanish and to relate them to the interaction of gender and number marking in Romance indefinite nominals.


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