Subject inversion in Ibero-Romance
Alice Corr
June 2012

I examine the licensing of wide-focus subject inversion in Ibero-Romance, presenting new data from six varieties which offer strong evidence that there are preverbal subject positions in Ibero-Romance and that SVO, rather than VSO, is the neutral word order of these varieties. As such, an approach to null subjects of the Barbosa (1995) and Alexiadou and Anagnostopoulou (1998) type, involving a parameterized EPP, appears to make the wrong predictions for Ibero-Romance. Instead, I argue there is an active EPP in Ibero-Romance which cannot be satisfied by the rich verbal inflection in the types of wide-focus subject inversion surveyed here, but rather is satisfied by a null locative argument or a null existential expletive. To account for the complex but systematic variation of wide-focus subject inversion involving a null locative in Ibero-Romance, I postulate an analysis of the null locative as a layered PP, of which there are four instantiations available unequally across varieties. This account allows covert ‘locative’ subject inversion and overt locative inversion to be unified under one analysis. Further systematic variation in Ibero-Romance can be explained by where the locative PPs appear in the TP/CP border and left periphery. Wide-focus ‘locative’ subject inversion is thus accounted for in terms of lexical variation and is argued not to be a direct consequence of the null subject parameter, especially since Brazilian Portuguese, a partial null-subject language, displays this type of inversion along with consistent null-subject languages. Furthermore, the licensing of ‘locative’ subject inversion is shown not to be dependent on the unaccusative/unergative distinction, but rather as a consequence of locational, directional and deictic features which are argued to be syntactically encoded in Ibero-Romance, and which correspond to the semantic properties of the inversion verbs involved.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/001704
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: University of Cambridge
keywords: subject inversion, ibero-romance, null subjects, epp, locative inversion, null subject parameter, syntax
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