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Review of  Clitic Phenomena in European Languages

Reviewer: Radu Daniliuc
Book Title: Clitic Phenomena in European Languages
Book Author: Frits Beukema Marcel den Dikken
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): Syntax
Subject Language(s): English
Greek, Modern
Language Family(ies): South Slavic
Issue Number: 11.2288

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Beukema Frits and Marcel den Dikken, (2000) Clitic Phenomena in
European Languages. (Linguistik aktuell / Linguistics today)
John Benjamins, 322 pages

Reviewed by Laura and Radu Daniliuc (The Australian National University)

The papers collected in this volume were first presented at the workshop on
"Clitic Phenomena in English and Other European Languages" held during the
fourth conference of the European Society for Study of English at Lajos
Kossuth University in Debrecen (Hungary), 5-9 September 1997. Besides, the
contribution of Ljiljana Progovac was invited by the editors and the
overview paper was written by Steven Franks. The editors are well known for
their interest in cross-linguistic clitic phenomena: Frits Beukema
(Department of English, University of Leiden) and Marcel den Dikken (The
Graduate School and University Center of The City University of New York).
Most of the articles treat clitic phenomena in a number of European
languages from a minimalist perspective, according to Chomsky's minimalist
program. However, each author combines it with various other perspectives in
order to get the right theoretical background to suit a particular kind of
analysis and a certain language. The variety of approaches is justified by
the fact that clitics fall at the intersection between phonology, morphology
and syntax and that they display both universal and language-particular
characteristics. The reason for their problematicity is that in general
clitics appear to be independent words at the level of syntax, while they
are merely parts of words at the phonological and morphological levels.
The articles show a renewed interest in cliticization in general,
and in Slavic languages in particular: half of the papers deal with Balkan
languages (Greek, Bulgarian, Albanian, Macedonian) and six papers put a
special emphasis on problems in South Slavic special clitic placement as
second position cliticization (2PL) has always attracted a great deal of
attention among syntacticians, phonologists, and morphologists. The Slavic
languages are morphologically rich and display free word order that is
relevant with respect to the principle of information structure and no other
phenomenon than clitic placement can give a more valuable insight into the
nature of the syntax-phonology interface.
The first attempt at classifying clitics across languages was probably that
of Zwicky (1977), a general survey differentiating clitic types with respect
to their syntactic, morphological and phonological properties. Zwicky
defines clitics as 'bound morphemes that sometimes are in construction with
affixes' (1977:7) and distinguishes between simple clitics (resulting from
the phonological reduction of a free morpheme which becomes phonologically
subordinate to a neighboring word), special clitics (with "special syntax",
such as French conjunct object pronouns) and bound words (showing
"considerable syntactic freedom in the sense that they can be associated
with words of a variety of morphosyntactic categories" (1977:6)).
However, since 1977, studies on clitic phenomena have shown a multifarious
perspective on this issue and "Clitic Phenomena in European Languages"
offers one of the latest approaches to this intriguing question.
This comprehensive volume opens with an overview paper (Clitics at the
Interface: An Introduction to Clitic Phenomena in European Languages) in
which Steven Franks (Indiana University) presents an overall approach of the
ways in which syntax interacts with morphology and phonology and suggests,
in a programmatic account, that Optimality Theoretic principles mediate the
mappings between components. It deals with problems regarding South Slavic
special clitic placement (proved to be basically syntactic) and treats
clitics as functional heads, arguing that 2PL is the highest functional head
position and that it is a direct consequence of V2.
In the first article - Asymmetries in the Distribution of Clitics: the Case
of Greek Restrictive Relatives - Artemis Alexiadou (Zentrum fur Allgemeine
Sprachwissenscraft, Berlin) and Elena Anagnostopoulou (University of Crete)
propose a head-raising analysis of the Greek restrictive
relative clauses introduced by the complementiser pu 'that' to account for
the asymmetry in the distribution of object clitics. Interestingly, they
adopt a mature structural analysis of restrictive relative clauses based on
Kayne (1994) and refer to many other works in the same area.
Taking into account a wide variety of empirical evidence, Zeljko Boskovic
(University of Connecticut) rigorously presents in Second Position
Cliticisation: Syntax and/or Phonology? a derivational model based on four
different perspectives on 2PL cliticisation in Serbo-Croatian (the weak and
strong syntax accounts and the weak and strong phonology accounts), which
indicates that the 2PL effect in Serbo-Croatian is phonological in nature,
but that clitics undergo movement in the syntax. He also makes several
predictions with respect to what kind of variation can be found
cross-linguistically in terms of cliticisation.
In Possessive Constructions and Possessive Clitics in the English and
Bulgarian DP, Mila Dimitrova-Vulchanova (University of Trondheim) proposes a
typology of DP-internal possessive expressions that distinguishes between
those realizing arguments of the head noun and those realizing non-arguments
('possessors'). The conclusion is that English and Bulgarian, though
belonging to different families, show a considerable similarity in the overt
realization of the arguments of the head noun and in the mechanisms for the
formal licensing of argument expressions.
Based on the main assumptions of the latest version of Principles and
Parameters Theory and on those of the Minimalist Program, Jon Franco
(Universidad de Deusto) observes in Agreement as a Continuum: The Case of
Spanish Pronominal Clitics, both descriptively and formally, the
(morpho-)syntactic status of object Clitic-doubled constructions in Spanish
as object agreement morphemes on the verb, on a par with subject-verb
agreement, i.e. Spanish object Clitics are syntactically mapped as AgrO
heads whose specifiers are to be occupied either by pro or by the doubled NP
object that the Clitic head is related to.
Also in the framework of the minimalist theory of grammar, but with a
derivational approach to the phonology-syntax interface, Marija Golden and
Milena Milojevic Sheppard (University of Ljubljana) propose in Slovene
Pronominal Clitics that the domain of second position Slovene clitics is CP
rather than IP and that this position, which is a structurally fixed one,
can be identified as adjunction to the head (C0) of their domain. Their
thorough analysis is based on a comparison with Serbo-Croatian, a pure
second position language.
Direct Object Clitic Doubling in Albanian and Greek firmly suggests that
topichood is encoded in the syntax for these free word order, null subject
languages. To prove this, Dalina Kallulli (University of Durham)
persuasively argues, also from the minimalist perspective, that direct
object clitics in both languages, characterized by a restricted distribution
and operator-like properties, unequivocally mark the DPs they double as
[-Focus] and that a doubling clitic/scrambling does not induce specificity
on these DPs, specificity being fundamentally related to the D-slot.
Revealing a striking correlation between syntactic positions and intonation
boundaries, Ljiljana Progovac (Wayne State University) provides
in Where Do Clitics Cluster? a brief critic review of Boskovic's article on
the phonological nature of second position cliticization in Serbo-Croatian,
article also published in this volume. Her comprehensive study, with wide
empirical coverage, accounts for the interaction between wh-formation, comma
intonation and clitic placement.
>From a minimalist perspective enriched by the level of Semantic Form,
representing the grammatically determined meaning of linguistic expressions,
Ivanka Petkova Schick (Universit�t Potsdam) discusses in Clitic Doubling
Constructions in Balkan-Slavic Languages aspects of pronominal clitic
doubling in Modern Bulgarian (compared with Macedonian, a close relative) in
respect to the information structure understood as the situational and
textual positioning of utterances in coherent utterance sequences. The
author's original conclusion is that Bulgarian clitic pronouns,
base-generated in functional projections, are adjuncts to functional
categories and consistently act as topic markers.
The final article, On Clitic Sites, persuasively argues that the dual
behaviour of the clitics derives from the different values for the features
[�V] and [�N] of the head of the clause. Olga Miseska Tomic (University of
Novi Sad) presents a structural analysis of clitic clusters in which Case
and specificity features of the pronominal clitics are checked by raising
the XP*s to the specifiers of the agreement phrases in which the clitics are
generated. Based on data from Macedonian and Serbo-Croatian, the third
person clitics are analyzed as heads of AuxPs c-commanding VPs, whereas
other auxiliary clitics are analyzed as heads of AgrS/TensePs.
As an overall appreciation, the ten scholarly articles presented by Frits
Beukema and Marcel den Dikken in "Clitic Phenomena in European Languages"
offer a panorama of the intricate clitic phenomenon in several European
languages (mainly Slavic languages) and of the current theories of clitics,
especially from a minimalist approach. As such, they demolish the view
according to which 'clitics are a mystery' and try to fix the boundaries of
this parameter of variation present in some languages.

Kayne, R. 1994. The Antisymmetries of Syntax. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Klavans, Judith L. 1995. On Clitics and Cliticization: the interaction of
morphology, phonology, and syntax. Garland Publishing: New York & London
Zwicky, Arnold M. 1977. On Clitics. Bloomington: Indiana University
Linguistics Club