Syntax – Information Structure – Discourse Organization
On Non-Focal Fronting in Italian and Spanish
Abstract: Non-Focal Fronting represents a non-canonical word order pattern which is syntactically almost identical to Romance Focus Fronting, but is associated to a different interpretation, usually emphatic and marked. This construction is widespread and productive in Spanish, but scarce and severely constrained in Italian, as confirmed by an informal search in the oral corpus C-ORAL-ROM. The contrast between the two languages can be explained as a particular manifestation of a more general difference in the mapping from syntax to Information Structure, which is related to the (im)possibility of having marked orders interpreted as single informational chunks. Old Italian seems to exhibit the same tolerance for Non-Focal Fronting that can be observed in Modern Spanish.
This paper intends to analyse a contrast in word order patterns between Spanish and Italian that has received little attention until now. It focuses on so-called Quantifier Fronting or Non-Focal Fronting, a construction that is widespread and productive in Spanish but quite limited in Italian. The contrast had already been mentioned in Leonetti (2009), (2010) and (2014), but it had never been addressed on the basis of Italian data from an oral corpus. Here I pursue two main goals. The first one is descriptive: I present the results of an informal search in the oral corpus C-ORAL-ROM, in order to check which quantifiers may appear fronted in contemporary spoken Italian. This should provide us with an estimation of the productivity of the construction in the language. My...
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