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Some remarks on subject positions and the architecture of the left periphery in Spanish

  • Bernhard Pöll (a1)

Abstract

This article reexamines the puzzling issue of where subjects, lexical and null, are located in Spanish and offers a novel explanation for the incompatibility of preverbal lexical subjects with fronted focussed constituents. Both SpecIP and the left periphery appear to be potential landing sites for subjects, according to discourse-pragmatic factors. Assuming that pro is a clitic, it is argued that the aforementioned incompatibility can be captured by a simple rule: SpecIP must be empty for focus fronting to occur. This is the case with pro, which adjoins to Infl, or with postverbal subjects since they remain in SpecVP. From this analysis it follows that: 1) the subject field in Spanish is less articulated than is generally assumed, 2) the differences between Spanish and other null subject languages with respect to the availability of preverbal subjets can be reduced to this rule and a different ordering of focus and topic phrases, and 3) it is unnecessary to posit two different topic positions.

Résumé

Cet article examine l’épineuse question de la position préverbale occupée par le sujet lexical en espagnol et offre une nouvelle explication pour la contrainte sur la cooccurrence de sujets lexicaux et de constituants focalisés en position préverbale. S’agissant des positions sujet, il apparaît que tant le spécifieur de SI que la périphérie gauche peuvent servir comme cible de mouvement, en fonction de paramètres discursifs. En présumant que pro est un clitique, je soutiens qu’il est possible de ramener la contrainte ci-dessus à la règle suivante : le mouvement d’items focalisés vers la périphérie gauche requiert que le spécifieur de SI soit vide. C’est le cas avec pro (attaché à la tête de SI) et également avec les sujets postverbaux. Il s’ensuit que 1) la structure des positions sujet en espagnol est moins complexe qu’on ne l’affirme souvent, 2) les différences entre l’espagnol et d’autres langues à sujet nul quant à la possibilité de sujets préverbaux se réduisent à la règle mentionnée de même qu’à une structure différente de la périphérie gauche, et 3) il n’est pas nécessaire de postuler deux positions différentes pour les topiques.

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Some remarks on subject positions and the architecture of the left periphery in Spanish

  • Bernhard Pöll (a1)

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