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

Syntax – Information Structure – Discourse Organization


Edited By 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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Verb-subject inversion in Romance; the other way round


Abstract: In this article we compare verb-subject (VS) constructions in Italian with those in French, and argue that, contrary to what has been often assumed, the structure and interpretation of VS word order in French and Italian are only superficially different, and, hence, cannot be said to reflect the existence of a parameter distinguishing both languages. We examine different types of VS word order in French and Italian and argue that there are surprising similarities that have to be acknowledged. We then conclude that the relation between the VS-cases in French and Italian can be seen as a subset-relation: VS in French occurs in a subset of (often fossilized) VS-contexts in Italian, but is not systematically divergent in order to warrant an analysis in terms of different parameter settings.

1    Introduction

In general, studies on word order in Romance start from an Italian and Spanish perspective, and then oppose French to these languages. Italian and Spanish on the one hand and French on the other hand indeed display a striking contrast between the so-called “free inversion” structures, typical for Italian and Spanish, and their absence in French, see (2):

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