Xavier Villalba – Inversió, C i Force en les exclamatives-qu romàniques

Seminari del CLT

Inversió, C i Force en les exclamatives-qu romàniques

Divendres, 13 de desembre de 2019
Aula 202, 15:30

(El seminari serà en català)

The dataWh-exclamative sentences in Romance pose a challenge to standard accounts of wh-movement and inversion [1]–[3], for they do not pattern consistently regarding subject-verb inversion, nor the presence of a complementizer:

(1)    a.   Bonjour    Henri! Comme    tu      as        grandi!

               good.day Henri how           you have   grown

‘Good morning, Henri! How much you have grown up!’ (Fr.: [4]: 195)

  1. Que    aldrabices   ele    conta!

               what   scams         he    explains

‘What scams he explains!’ (Port.: [5]: ex. 31b)

(2)    a.   Che     bel             romanzo     ha    scritto,   Umberto!

               what   beautiful   novel           has written   Umberto

a’. ?Che   bel             romanzo che Umberto   ha    scritto!

               what   beautiful   novel        that Umberto   has written

‘What a beautiful novel Umberto has written!’ (It.: [6]: ex. 48)

(3)    a.   Que    intel·ligent   (que)   és     el      Pere!

               how     intelligent    that     is      the   Pere

‘How intelligent Pere is!’ (Cat.: [7] ex. 58)

  1. ¡Qué   cosas (que)   dice                 la         soprano!

               what   things that     say.prs.3sg the.f   soprano

‘What things the soprano says!’ (Sp.: [8]: ex. 75)

Whereas French and Portuguese show neither inversion nor complementizer, Italian shows them in complementary distribution, and Catalan and Spanish always show inversion, regardless of the optional presence of que.

Proposals. In cartographic accounts (e.g. [9], [10], [11], [12]) it is commonly assumed that wh-exclamatives move to FocP in the left periphery, just as interrogatives. Hence, when we have inversion, the verb has moved to Foc (4a), or, conversely, the Foc head is realized by the complementizer que/che (4b) (a null version should be assumed for French and Portuguese in all cases):

(4) a. [ForcePForce [FocP Che bel romanzo [Foc ha scritto ] [FinP Fin [IP Umberto ]]]]

  1. [ForceP Force [FocP Che bel romanzo [Foc che ] [FinP Fin [IP Umberto ha scritto ]]]]

Yet, this proposal assumes a complementary distribution between inversion and the complementizer, which is factually wrong for Catalan and Spanish exclamatives (3): if que is filling the head of Foc, why is inversion required in these languages?

A new analysis. I will defend that obligatory inversion in Catalan and Spanish wh-exclamatives is a general phenomenon related to the checking of [wh]/[focus] features, affecting also interrogatives and focus preposing. As for the complementizer que, I will argue it is the lexicalization of the exclamative Force head. Moreover, I will adopt the idea by [13] that wh-exclamatives must check two features: [wh] in FocP, but also [exclamative] in ForceP.

Let us see the derivation of the Spanish exclamative in (3b). First, we have the initial structure, with the (optional) merge of que in the head of Force:

(5) [ForceP [Force que ] [FocP [Foc ] [TP la soprano dice qué cosas ]]]

Then the [wh]-feature attracts the verb and the wh-phrase, yielding the general inversion pattern:

(6) [ForceP [Force que ] [FocP qué cosas [Foc dice ] [TP la soprano dice qué cosas ]]]

Finally, the feature [exclamative] attracts the wh-phrase to Spec,ForceP, which yields the correct order:

(7) [ForceP qué cosas [Force que ][FocP qué cosas [Foc dice ] [TP la soprano dice qué cosas ]]]

This proposal receives independent evidence from the Catalan degree exclamative type analyzed by [14], where the complementizer que encodes the exclamative force of the sentence (note the obligatory inversion pattern):

(8)    Que    plora, aquest   noi!

         that     cries   this         boy

‘How this boy cries!

This exclamative type will involve a similar derivation to (6)-(7), but with a null degree operator.

On the whole, this proposal is empirically grounded, but it is also theoretically superior to previous analyses in three respects:

Wh-exclamatives must pass through Spec,FocP to its final position in Spec,ForceP, just as interrogatives.

Inversion is movement of V to Foc, just as in the case of interrogatives.

que/che is a lexicalization of Force, in accordance with other uses of this complementizer.

Finally, our proposal has consequences for the standardly assumed left periphery stemming from [11]: where standard approaches place TopP between ForceP and FocP, Catalan and Spanish consistently place dislocates to the left of exclamative (and interrogative) wh-words (9)-(10), calling into question the spreading of TopP across the left periphery in these languages, in sharp contrast with Italian:

(9)    Ja sabeu, el Joan, quantes bestieses que diu. ‘You know how much nonsense John says.’

(10)  Em pregunto, d’aquest llibre, qui en va parlar. ‘I wonder who talked about this book.’

(11)  Che bel posto, a Giorgio, che (gli) hanno assegnato! [10]

‘What a good place they assigned to Giorgio!’

(12)  Non so proprio chi, questo libro, potrebbe recensirlo per domani. [15]

‘I honestly don’t know who could review this book for tomorrow.’

To account for this contrast, we must parametrize the realization of TopP in the left periphery of sentence, with consequences for intervention effects yet to be explored.

[1] A. Hulk and J.-Y. Pollock, Subject Inversion in Romance and the Theory of Universal Grammar, 2001. [2] E. Torrego, “On inversion in Spanish and some of its effects,” LI. 15.1:103–129, 1984. [3] L. Rizzi, “Residual Verb Second and the WH-Criterion,” in Parameters and Functional Heads, 23–50, 1991. [4] Y. Delatour et al., Nouvelle gram. du français, 2004. [5] A. M. Brito et al., “Estrutura da frase simples e tipos de frases,” in Gram. da língua portuguesa. 433–506. [6] P. Benincà, et al., “L’ordine delle parole e le costruzioni marcate,” Grande Gram. It. di Cons. Vol. I, 1988, 115–225. [7] X. Villalba, “Exclamatives: A thematic guide with many questions and few answers,” CatJL 7, 9–40, 2008. [8] M. L. Hernanz, “Assertive Bien in Spanish and the Left Periphery,” in Mapping the left periphery, 2010, 19–62. [9] P. Benincà, “La struttura della frase esclamativa alla luce del dialetto padovano,” in Italiano e dialetti nel tempo, 1996, 23–43. [10] P.Benincà, and C. Poletto, “Topic, focus, and V2: defining the CP sublayers,” in The Structure of IP and CP, 2003, 52–75. [11] L. Rizzi, “The fine structure of the left periphery,” in Elements of Grammar, 1997, 281–337. [12] R. Zanuttini and P. Portner, “Exclamative clauses: At the syntax-semantics interface,” Lg 79.1, 39–81, 2003. [13] J. Gutiérrez-Rexach. Spanish Root Exclamatives at the Syntax / Semantics Interface. CatJL 7. 117–133, 2008. [14] X. Villalba, “An exceptional exclamative sentence type in Romance,” Lingua 113, 713-745, 2003. [15] G. Cinque, Types of A’-dependencies. 1990.

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13 Des, 2019


15:30 - 17:00


Aula 202, Fac. de Filosofia i Lletres
Campus UAB, Bellaterra (Barcelona)
Centre de Lingüística Teòrica


Centre de Lingüística Teòrica
(+34) 93 581 23 72
Desembre 2019
Gener 2020
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