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This chapter considers how the Romance languages can contribute to our understanding of the encoding of discourse-oriented meaning, both structurally, at the level of the sentence, and, interpretatively, at the level of the utterance; more precisely, it focuses on the discourse-oriented meaning that interfaces between the wider extra-sentential discourse context on the one hand, and the propositional core of the utterance and the sentence-internal discourse context on the other. We present an overview of the contribution of Romance languages to a number of the key issues associated with theories of discourse at the level of the sentence/utterance, such as the grammatical expression of clause type, the codification of illocutionary force, and the mapping between form and function in the realization of speech acts, which are the communicative actions effected through the production of an utterance; in particular, we distinguish the morphosyntactic notion of clause type, meant as the formal or grammatical structure of a sentence codified through the lexicalization of dedicated functional slots within the left periphery of the clause, from that of illocutionary force, a pragmatic notion which refers to the communicative function attached to that expression.
This article develops an analysis of a verbless predicative structure attested throughout Romance: in this type of reduced clause the predicate linearly precedes the subject and is separated from it by a clear intonational break, while the missing verb is interpreted as a silent copula. I argue that this structure should be viewed as the result of three movement steps: the first step is to be identified with predicate inversion, that is, extraction of the predicate from the complement position of the predicative small clause to a higher specifier position thanks to phase extension, followed by raising of the predicate to the specifier of SubjP to check the EPP feature, and finally to the specifier of the left-peripheral projection FocusP in order to check a focus feature. The present analysis is based on the crucial, and independently motivated assumption, that the process of phase extension, produced by raising of the small clause internal relator R° to a higher functional head F°, is limited to small clauses associated with individual-level predicates. The verbless predicative structure is then compared to an analogous construction in which the preposed predicate is preceded by a wh-item, arguing that, despite their apparent similarity, the two structures should be clearly distinguished.
In this article we try to determine the diachronic origin of a few sentential particles attested in some North-Eastern Italian dialects on the basis of their syntactic properties. The particles we consider are associated with specific clause types and can only appear in matrix non-declarative clauses; they generally occur in sentence-final position, and only some of them can follow the wh-item in an interrogative clause. They display the typical properties of X°-elements, and can therefore be analysed as functional heads of the CP layer; we present an analysis exploiting movement of the wh-item or of the whole clause to the specifier corresponding to the head occupied by the particle. The different distribution that characterizes the two main types of particles seems to depend on whether they derive etymologically from pronouns or from adverbs; the new properties developed in the grammaticalization process suggest that when an element is reanalysed as a functional category, it can further acquire the value of functional projections merged close to it in the structure.
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