2013 Winner: Italian Clitics

Project Information
Italian Clitics
Italian, like most Romance languages, has a rich system of pronominal clitics, including direct object clitics, indirect object clitics, reflexive clitics, the impersonal clitic si, the locational clitic ci, and the partitive clitic ne. Pronominal clitics are a subset of pronouns that are known for their intriguing behavior, due to the fact that, as clitics, they do not pattern with linguistically independent entities (prosodic words, words that can be stressed or emphasized) or with linguistically dependent ones (inflectional affixes, which join with words to denote plurality, tense, etc.), but somewhere between the two, as they rely on the prosodic words on which they lean for phonological purposes, but function as independent syntactic units, unlike other bound morphemes. This unique status of clitics gives rise to a number of interesting patterns concerning issues of location, movement, and climbing. Although these issues have been the center of much literature and research, a number of puzzles still remain.
My aim in developing a thesis is twofold: to address some of the issues that have been brought up in the literature, such as the fact that there is only one construction in which clitics can attach to past participles and the arbitrary gaps that have been proposed in regard to the clitics that can attach to the present participle, and to provide a new theoretical approach to better account for double object clitics, based on evidence that they seem to function as a single unit, rather than two separate entities, and ought to be analyzed as such.
  • Emma Peoples (Stevenson)