FOR 2111 TP 2 Die Struktur von w-Äußerungen und die Interpretation von w-Wörtern in romanischen (und germanischen) Sprachen

Institutions
  • Department of Linguistics
Publications
    Schmid, Svenja; von Heusinger, Klaus; Kaiser, Georg A. (2021): On word order variation and information structure in Peninsular Spanish and Italian ‘why’-interrogatives Cadernos de Estudos Linguísticos. Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Instituto de Estudos da Linguagem. 2021, 63, e021025. ISSN 0102-5767. eISSN 2447-0686. Available under: doi: 10.20396/cel.v63i00.8661251

On word order variation and information structure in Peninsular Spanish and Italian ‘why’-interrogatives

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In this paper, we investigate the effect of information structure on word order in Italian and Peninsular Spanish ‘why’-interrogatives, and whether these two languages differ from each other. To this end, we conducted two empirical studies. In a parallel text corpus study, we compared the frequency of the word order patterns ‘why’SV and ‘why’VS, as well as the distribution of focal and non-focal subjects in the two languages. In order to get a deeper understanding of the impact of the information structural categories focus and givenness on word order in ‘why’-interrogatives, we conducted a forced-choice experiment. The results indicate that word order is affected by focus in Italian, while it is not determined by any information structural category in Peninsular Spanish. We show that Italian and Peninsular Spanish ‘why’-interrogatives differ from each other in two ways. First, non-focal subjects occur preverbally in Italian, while they occupy the postverbal position in Peninsular Spanish. Second, Italian reveals a lower level of optionality with respect to word order patterns. Even though we find a high preference for the postverbal position in Peninsular Spanish, we argue that this limitation is related to a higher flexibility regarding word order in Peninsular Spanish than in Italian which does not allows for ‘why’VSO in contrast to Peninsular Spanish.

Origin (projects)

    Kaiser, Georg A.; von Heusinger, Klaus; Schmid, Svenja (2019): Word order variation in Spanish and Italian interrogatives : The role of the subject in ‘why’-interrogatives POMINO, Natascha, ed.. Proceedings of the IX Nereus International Workshop “Morphosyntactic and Semantic Aspects of the DP in Romance and Beyond”. Konstanz: Fachbereich Linguistik, Universität Konstanz, 2019, pp. 69-90. Arbeitspapiere / Fachbereich Linguistik. 131

Word order variation in Spanish and Italian interrogatives : The role of the subject in ‘why’-interrogatives

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This paper deals with some of the word order variation which can be found in Spanish and Italian wh-interrogatives. In particular, it investigates the variation between the whVS and whSV order in interrogatives introduced by ‘why’. We provide a brief overview of word order in Spanish and Italian wh-interrogatives and argue that there are various morphological, syntactic, and discourse pragmatic factors which influence the preference for a particular structure. We also argue, in section 2, that the word order variation depends on the type of the subject, namely on its DP-type (noun or pronoun), as well as on its heaviness or complexity. In section 3, we firstly present a comparative corpus study of Spanish and Italian Bible translations, showing that Spanish and Italian seem to have different word order preferences in ‘why’-interrogatives. Secondly, we present an acceptability task investigating different subjects of differing complexity, such as simple DPs, complex DPs, and pronouns. Both empirical studies provide original data showing word order variation in ‘why’-interrogatives in both Spanish and Italian. In section 4, we discuss the results and argue that the differences between the two languages can be best accounted for by assuming that the two languages have different preferences with respect to the information structure of such constructions and for their preferences for VS or SV order. We also discuss the effect of subject type for the word order in Spanish. Section 5 provides a short conclusion.

Origin (projects)

Funding sources
Name Finanzierungstyp Kategorie Project no.
Schwerpunktprogramm third-party funds research funding program 606/19
Further information
Period: 01.05.2019 – 30.04.2022