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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Position of Object Clitics in the History of Romance Languages (Die Stellung der klitischen Objektpronomina in den romanischen Sprachen. Diachrone Perspektive und Korpusstudie zum Okzitanischen sowie zum Katalanischen und Französischen) Add Dissertation
Author: Marc-Olivier Hinzelin Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Universität Konstanz, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2005
Linguistic Subfield(s): Syntax; Text/Corpus Linguistics;
Subject Language(s): Catalan-Valencian-Balear
Provençal, Old
Language Family(ies): Romance
Director(s): Christoph Schwarze
Jürgen Meisel
Georg Kaiser

Abstract: The position of object clitics in Romance languages shows a great deal of
diachronic and diatopic variation: whereas nowadays in most Romance
languages clitics occur obligatorily in preverbal position (w.r.t. the
finite verb), the postverbal position existed in the medieval period in all
languages (Ramsden 1962, Fischer 2002). Today, postposition to the finite
verb (in non-imperative sentences) is encountered only in North-Western
Ibero-Romance languages (e.g. European Portuguese (EP) – (1a/b)), Spanish,
however, patterns like the other Romance languages (2a/b):

(1a) EP o cão viu-me
the dog saw-me
(1b) EP *o cão me viu
(2a) Sp. *el perro viome
(2b) Sp. el perro me vio
the dog me saw

In all medieval Romance varieties postposition was obligatory in verb-first
sentences (the famous Tobler-Mussafia Law) but was also a possible solution
in unmarked main clauses without the verb in the first position (e.g. Old
Portuguese (3a/b); Martins 1994a, b):

(3a) O.Ptg. elle lho outorgou
he him-it granted
(3b) O.Ptg. elle outorgou lho
he granted him-it

These word order doublets have been eliminated, giving preference in most
languages to the preverbal position. I will distinguish four main types of
Romance languages w.r.t. clitic placement (postverbal in V1 sentences,
postverbal in unmarked main clauses, or generalized preverbal position) and
interpolation, i.e. the separation of clitic and verb. Taking the resulting
feature matrix as a starting point, I propose different base-generation
positions of clitics: in Old Romance and in Modern European Portuguese,
clitics are base-generated in C° and incorporated enclitically into every
element in this position, e.g. a complementizer or the finite verb. The
interpolation phenomenon clearly indicates the possibility of clitic
attachment to another element than the finite verb. In Modern Romance
languages (except EP), the clitic is base-generated in I° and attached
proclitically to its only possible host, the finite verb.
Based on these assumptions, I formulate five OT constraints relevant for
clitic placement and possible separation from the verb: the alignment
constraints C°-ENCL (enclisis in C°) and PROCL-I° (proclisis in I°)
position the clitic to the right of the host in C° and to the left of the
verb in I°. V-ADJ (verb adjacency) requests the clitic to be adjacent to
the verb. DIR-HOST (direct host) demands a host to occur in the same phrase
where the clitic is realized, thus accounting for forced movement of the
finite verb in front of the clitic in V1 sentences. Here the clitic
otherwise would occur sentence-initially and without a host in the CP.
Finally, the constraint STAY punishes movement. With these constraints, the
syntax of clitic placement is shown for different constructions: unmarked
main clauses, V1 sentences, and interpolation in subordinates.
My analysis examines the competing grammars of the word order doublets in
the medieval varieties and offers a model to explain the grammatical
change, in the course of which one possibility is eventually lost, but
which leads to two different outcomes: European Portuguese and Spanish.