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Title:Optimal Clitic Positions and the Lexicon in Romance Clitic Systems
Authors:Jane Grimshaw
Abstract:Optimal Clitic Positions and the Lexicon in Romance Clitic Systems

Jane Grimshaw
Rutgers University
(October 1999)

The goal of the paper is to show that some fundamental properties of the clitic systems of French, Italian and Spanish can be understood as a function of a set of ranked, violable morpho-syntactic constraints of three core kinds: faithfulness constraints, markedness constraints, and alignment constraints (Prince and Smolensky 1993, McCarthy and Prince 1993). The major points of this paper concern the role of alignment constraints in determining the relative positions of clitics in the three Romance systems studied here, and the role of markedness and faithfulness constraints in determining the lexical representations which form the clitic lexicons.

The relative order of clitics in Romance finite clauses follows from alignment constraints which relate morpho-syntactic specifications for case and person to the right and left edge of the clause (and hence indirectly the clitic cluster), and is thus subject to the same fundamental principles as any other syntactic ordering, including relative order among heads, specifiers and complements. The alignment constraints interact with faithfulness constraints explaining the clitic substitution known as 'spurious se'.

The inventory of clitics in each system is determined by the interaction of markedness constraints, which target combinations of morpho-syntactic specifications, and faithfulness constraints which mandate preservation of input specifications. These interactions predict which of the universal possibilities for pronominal specifications will actually appear in grammatical outputs.

The derivation of the inventory is a step within a larger program in which the functional lexicons of languages are derived from the interaction of grammatical constraints.
Type:Paper/tech report
Area/Keywords:Syntax, Morphosyntax, Morphology
Article:Version 1