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Current Issues in Italian, Romance and Germanic Non-canonical Word Orders

Syntax – Information Structure – Discourse Organization


Anna-Maria De Cesare and Davide Garassino

This volume aims at offering an up-to-date survey on non-canonical word orders and their interplay with information structure and discourse organization. The contributions analyze different non-canonical syntactic structures (fronting, inversion, dislocations, and cleft constructions), focusing on Italian alone or on Italian in a contrastive perspective with one or more Romance (French, Romanian, Portuguese, Spanish) and/or Germanic (English and German) languages. The authors tackle the main issue of the volume from a variety of perspectives and by relying on different theoretical frameworks. At the same time, they all offer a fine-grained description of the structures analyzed on the basis of a solid empirical foundation.
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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.

1    Introduction

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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