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Review of  Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 1999. Selected papers from 'Going Romance' 1999, Leiden, 9-11 December 1999.

Reviewer: Eva Monrós
Book Title: Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 1999. Selected papers from 'Going Romance' 1999, Leiden, 9-11 December 1999.
Book Author: Yves D'hulst Johan E.C.V. Rooryck
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics
Issue Number: 13.1355

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Date: Tue, 14 May 2002 10:13:07 +0200
From: Eva Monrós Marín
Subject: D'Hulst et al. (2001) Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 1999

D'Hulst, Yves, Johan Rooryck, and Jan Schroten, ed. (2001) Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 1999. John Benjamins Publishing Company, viii+406pp, hardback ISBN 1-58811-131-8, $86.00, Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 221

Eva Monrós, Universitat de Barcelona (Spain)

This volume compiles a selection of fifteen articles from the thirteenth "Going Romance" conference, held at Leiden University in December 1999. The papers focus on several topics from different theoretical approaches, all concerned with recent proposals in syntax and semantics. They share a comparative point of view within Romance languages (Catalan, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish) and include references to other linguistic families.

The book includes, among others, articles on Wh-Questions, exclamatives, causatives, free relatives, unaccusatives and six papers on negation, discussed in the conference workshop. The selection is ordered alphabetically according to the authors' name and is preceded by a short introduction. Each article finishes with its own bibliography.

The main ideas of every paper are summarized below, starting with the essays on negation. The rest of papers are roughly organized according to their focus of attention. I finish this review with a general overview of the volume.

"Negative concord and the distribution of Quantifiers" by Antonio Branco and Berthold Crysmann
This is the first of the set of six papers about negation in Romance languages. The authors deal with the negative value of N-words in Portuguese ('nobody', 'nothing' etc.) and their interaction with other negative items in an ambiguity-driven approach. Negative Concord is a phenomenon at the semantics-syntax interface by which multiple negative items co-occurring in a sentence express only one negation. Empirical data show a constraint in linear precedence: postverbal N-words can co-occur with negation, while preverbal ones cannot. The authors argue that the contrast in distribution depends on monotonicity properties. These "monotonicity properties" remain as a rather obscure concept, unclearly explained in the article.

"On the multiple expression of negation in Romance" by Francis Corblin and Lucia Tovena
Again, Negative Concord is in the focus of this paper: the multiple expression problem arises when several negative lexical items trigger only one clausal negation. In this proposal, Negative Concord results from three different constraints about the expression of negation in the verb-argument domain. First, it is shown that most natural languages have lexical items marked unambiguously as negative; argument variables falling under the scope of these negative elements will be interpreted as negated. Second, there is a restriction ^Önot free of empirical problems- on the recursivity of negation within the clause. Finally, most Romance languages obey the "Neg-first" principle, in other words, they place the negation (either the negative marker or N-words) before the verb. The authors compare "Neg-first" in Romanian, French and Italian.

"Negative Concord and the minimalist approach" by Gabriela Matos
Traditional and more recent approaches to negation do not adequately deal with Negative Concord in all Romance languages. The author claims that N-Words are intrinsic negative items, which do not cancel each other, but form a single negative expression within a local domain by Neg-absorption triggered at Logical Form. The phenomenon affects both sentential and phrasal negation. Empirical data draw a distinction between Portuguese, where N-Words are excluded from interrogative and declarative contexts, and the negative marker is compulsory with postverbal N-Words-, and Italian or Spanish, where N-Words do not necessarily co-occur with a negative marker. In Section 2, Matos rejects previous analysis, such as those based on the Neg-criterion or checking theory. In Section 3, the minimalist account is proposed: in order to be negated, a constituent must be under the local scope of a negative item (e.g. a negative element with scope onto the verb will result in a negative sentence). The paper concludes with some interesting cross-linguistic remarks about the necessary/unallowed co-occurrence of a negative marker with a pre/postverbal N-Word.

"French 'ne' in non-verbal contexts" by Paul Rowlett
Commonly, the linguistic literature distinguishes between X head negative markers (e.g. "ne" in French) and phrasal negative markers (e.g. the French "pas"). A distributional generalization is claimed for X negative items: namely, that they appear in verbal contexts only. French has three apparent counterexamples to this generalization, in other words, three constructions where "ne" seems not to be in a verbal context. The author presents these cases and analyzes them to conclude that they actually follow the general rule. First, the "(ne) voilà(-t-il) pas" case is solved assuming that "voilà", derived diachronically from a verbal form, has retained some verbal features. The second and third cases are, respectively, the "pour (ne) pas que + Subjunctive" construction, and the double "ne" in non-finite context. Rowlett suggests that they contain a non-overt modal, which means that the contexts in which "ne" occurs are verbal; besides, it is necessary to assume the Neg-raising process, where the negative marker belonging to an embedded predicate is attracted to the matrix verb (i.e. the modal in these cases).

"French negative sentences with 'avant'-phrases and 'jusqu'à'-phrases" by Svetlana Vogeleer
This paper is mainly descriptive. Its aim is to show that "avant"-phrases ('before') and "jusqu'à"-phrases ('until') are not semantically equivalent in negative sentences: the former are time constituents associated to achievements, whereas the latter are duration constituents associated to activities. The scope of the negation is also different in both kinds of construction. On one hand, a negative sentence with "avant" allows a minimal negation reading. On the other, sentences with "jusqu'à", when negative, can only be understood as radical negations.

"Decomposing the Neg-Criterion" by Akira Watanabe
The author analyzes systematic differences between Italian and West Flemish with respect to the Negative Concord. This analysis leads to the conclusion that the Neg-Criterion (Haegeman, 1995) must be decomposed into two parametrized conditions. On one hand, the +[Neg] feature can be strong for Neg-heads and/or Neg-Operators. This distinction determines whether double negation is possible or not. In West Flemish, for example, where Neg-Operators do not have to undergo checking (i.e. [+Neg] is weak in Neg-operators and strong in Neg) double negation is allowed; this is not the case for Italian, where [+Neg] is strong in Neg-Operators. On the other, Watanabe points out that West Flemish must allow multiple Spec in Neg. The paper includes some remarks on other languages, such as Piedmontese, Catalan, Afrikaans, Spanish, etc.

"On the nature of Wh-Phrases: word order and Wh-in-situ: Evidence from Portuguese, French, Hungarian and Tetum" by Manuela Ambar and Rita Veloso
This paper, the first in the volume, deals with the nature of Wh-Interrogatives, their constituency and distribution. The main hypothesis is built with data from Portuguese and French, and is checked then with Hungarian and Tetum (East Timor). The authors propose the existence of a Wh-Projection with strong N and V features. Checking these features triggers raising of Wh-Phrase and V- Inflection, and explains the inversion pattern usually found in Wh-Questions. As for Wh-Questions without inversion and Wh-in-situ, the authors assume the presence of the Assertive-Projection.

"Spanish exclamatives and the interpretation of the left periphery" by Javier Gutiérrez-Rexach
Beyond the apparent variety of patterns, Spanish root exclamatives exhibit the following linearization of the features involved in the left periphery (C Phase): [{Force-Evident} {Focus-Degree} Topic]. Illocutionary force plays an important role in determining surface forms. The author points out the characteristic properties of five different root exclamatives: those headed by a verb ("vaya"), a complementizer ("que"), an evidential adverb/adjective ("evidentemente", "seguro"), a determiner ("lo") and a Wh-word ("qué"). These items -- merged or raised, depending on the case, in ForceP -- trigger a scalar implicature (i.e. they express a high degree of a given property).

"Free relatives as defective Wh-elements: Evidence from the North-Western Italian dialects" by Nicola Munaro
Certain Wh-items in North-Western Italian dialects (e.g. "kwe") are cognate with the distal demonstrative ("kwelu"). Moreover, the Wh-item "kwe" and the demonstrative "kwelo" never co-occur in the same dialect, the demonstrative being often used as a Wh-word. These facts suggest the hypothesis that these Wh-elements derive diachronically from the demonstrative and are free relatives -with a peculiar distribution in main and embedded interrogatives, such as in restrictive relatives. A rich paper, with a great variety of examples, and a balanced combination of explanation and dialectal description.

"Clause structure, subject positions and verb movement: About the position of "sempre" in European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese" by Ana Maria Brito
The author proposes her analysis of Portuguese -- both European and Brazilian -- sentences with "sempre". She distinguishes "sempre" with temporal/aspectual value ('always') and "sempre" as a confirmative adverb ('indeed'). The main data in European Portuguese exhibit the following contrast: the temporal/aspectual "sempre" can be placed pre- or postverbally, whereas "sempre" as confirmative adverb is always preverbal. Brito assumes that postverbal adverbs are projected as an adjunct to VP, and that V raises to T and DP (subject) to Spec, TP. In contrast, when "sempre" -- temporal/aspectual or confirmative -- appears preverbally, it is merged as an adjunct in TP, the verb moves to T with a short movement, and DP raises to a position above this T projection. The comparison of several hypotheses about word order makes this paper very interesting. In conclusion, although both varieties of Portuguese differ in essential syntactic aspects, the analysis of Brazilian Portuguese can be the same given for European Portuguese.

"Unaccusative inversion in French" by Jean-Marie Marandin
This is an interesting, clear and well exemplified work. French exhibits three kinds of Subject NP inversion: stylistic inversion (in extraction contexts), unaccusative inversion and elaborative inversion (with heavy NPs). The main focus of the article is unaccusative inversion, which occurs only with non-agentive intransitive verbs -both in indicative or subjunctive-, triggers "en"- pronominalization and does not allow the scrambling of the subject. "En"- pronominalization suggests that the NP in unaccusative inversion combines with the verb as an object, whereas agreement suggests it is a subject. The author claims against an analysis with a preverbal empty expletive, the explanation given in the Minimalist Program. Alternatively, he proposes an analysis within the HPSG (Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar) framework: in the unaccusative pattern, the first argument of the verb is realized as an object and the subject is not projected, a non canonical mapping of arguments onto syntactic functions.

"Property denoting objects in idiomatic constructions" by M. Teresa Espinal
The main focus of this paper is idiomatic constructions and their interpretation. Idiomatic constructions must have a generic reading because (1) object nouns always denote properties, and (2) idiomatic constructions are always submitted to a predicate formation process by means of incorporation. These claims follow from the analysis of VPhrase and PPhrase idioms in Catalan and other Romance languages. The main hypothesis is that idioms are predicates built at the lexical level by abstract noun incorporation into the verb -- a head to head movement --, where nouns are not seen as arguments, but as properties. See the detailed description about the generic reading of the object noun, the scope of quantifiers and adverbs, and the temporal/aspectual variations on the verb in idioms.

"On the relation of priority between causative and inchoative constructions" by Raffaella Folli
This paper presents an analysis of the causative/inchoative alternation within Italian verbs of change of state. The main purpose is to define the relation of priority between both uses of the same verb, that is to say, to determine if the alternation is the result of a process of transitivization or detransitivization. The author classifies the Italian verbs of change of state that allow the alternation into three groups according to the following criteria: (i) whether they need the reflexive "si" in the intransitive form, and (ii) whether they form middle voice with or without "si". The resulting analysis claims that verbs like 'break' are basically transitive (the inchoative variant eliminating the causer). Members of the 'sink' class are considered primitively intransitive (the causative form introducing the causer). Finally, items like 'melt' present a more complicated alternation, allowing an intransitive form with "si" and another without "si". Their basic form is the intransitive without reflexive pronoun, and the others are obtained via inchoativization and transitivization.

"Locative and locatum verbs revisited. Evidence from Romance" by Jaume Mateu
The author revises Hale and Keyser's (1998) lexical relational analysis of locative (e.g. "Ell engabià el seu ocell preferit", 'He (in)caged his favorite bird') and locatum verbs (e.g. "Ella ensellà el cavall", 'She (in)saddled the horse'). According to Hale and Keyser (1998), locative and locatum verbs are derived via incorporation of the noun (e.g. "gàbia", 'cage'; "sella", 'saddle') into a prepositional head. The difference between both kinds of verbs is the semantic value of the preposition: terminal vs. central coincidence relation, respectively. Mateu assumes the lexical decomposition analysis, but points out that locatum verbs can also be instances of a terminal coincidence relation. Locative and locatum verbs are both causative change of state predicates, and the presence of the terminal coincidence relation determines their aspectual properties.

"Temporal existential constructions in Romance" by Gemma Rigau
The main claim of this article is to draw a distinction between temporal presentational constructions and temporal circumstantial constructions -impersonal sentences which situate an event in the past (e.g. "il y a dix ans...", 'ten years ago...'). The analysis is based on their syntactic and lexical properties, and exemplified with a rich variety of Romance languages. Both kinds of temporal existential constructions are integrated by a light verb hosted by an abstract central coincidence preposition, a clitic ("y") occupying the Spec position and the temporal measure ("dix ans") as the complement. According to Rigau, temporal circumstantial constructions always appear in adjunct position, as modifiers of the main predicate (e.g. "votre frère, il y a quelques années, est venu chez moi", 'several years ago your brother came over'). In contrast, temporal presentational constructions are autonomous elements (e.g. "il y a longtemps de tout cela", 'all that was a long time ago'). The article comments on other differences, distributional, aspectual, and so on.

From the six papers on negation, we can see that Negative Concord in Romance is a current topic of analysis and discussion. The Neg-Criterion is one of its most controversial aspects. Some of the points to have into account in this respect are: the negative value of N-Words and negative markers, their distribution in the sentence, the scope of negation, the possibility of double negation, among others. To summarize, negation is accounted under semantic approaches and minimalist syntax. As we have seen, the volume includes three papers on Wh-Words, more precisely on interrogatives, exclamatives and relatives. We can say that the features contained by Wh-Words in several languages determine not only the order of constituents within the clause, but also the internal structure of the left periphery of a sentence. In all papers, including those dealing with particular phenomena in a particular language, empirical data are the ground for the theoretical proposals. We find everywhere fine approaches to the different topics and, moreover, a review of the most relevant proposals. In general, explanation and description are well balanced and the comparison among languages is rich enough to reach adequate conclusions.

Haegeman, L. (1995). "The Syntax of Negation". Cambridge: CUP.

Hale, K. & S. J. Keyser (1998). "The basic elements of argument structure". MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 32.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER Eva Monrós has a degree in Catalan Language and Literature (1997) and another in Linguistics (2000). She is in her second year of postgraduate studies and works as a researcher at the Department of Linguistics of the Universitat de Barcelona, under a grant for researcher formation. Her PhD project focuses on typological syntax, more precisely on ergativity. She intends to give a minimalist approach to this phenomenon in Amazonian languages.