Sentential Particles and Clausal Typing in Venetan Dialects

Sentential Particles and Clausal Typing in Venetan Dialects
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Poletto, Cecilia; Munaro, Nicola
01 January 2011

Poletto, Cecilia; Munaro, Nicola (2011): Sentential Particles and Clausal Typing in Venetan Dialects. In: Benjamin Shaer (Hg.): Dislocated elements in discourse. Syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic perspectives. New York, London: Routledge (Routledge studies in Germanic linguistics), S. 201–227.

In this work we describe both the syntactic and the semantic properties of
a number of sentential particles (henceforth SPs), which can appear in some
Venetan dialects 2 in main non-declarative clauses, as exemplified in (1):
(1) Cossa falo, ti?!
what does-he ti
‘What is he doing [ti]?’
The presence of these particles induces interesting interpretive effects,
and an investigation of their properties is relevant for the analysis of the left
periphery of the clause; a detailed study of these particles turns out to have
theoretical relevance for a cross-linguistic theory of clausal typing on the
one hand and for a deeper understanding of the syntax–semantics interface
on the other. The distribution of SPs also involves a number of interpretive
and pragmatic distinctions that highlight the way sentence type is encoded
in the syntactic structure and provide some insights into finer grained dis-
tinctions internal to each sentence type. 3
We will systematically analyse data from two varieties: Pagotto, a North-
ern Veneto variety, and Venetian, an Eastern Veneto variety (indicated as
‘Pg’ and ‘Ve,’ respectively, in the examples). However, the particles described
here occur, with a partially different distribution, in several other dialects of
the Northeastern Italian area, which we will occasionally refer to as well.
While SPs can appear in main interrogatives, exclamatives, and impera-
tives, none of them can occur in declarative clauses or in embedded con-
texts; furthermore, they always occur in ‘special’ contexts, in the sense that
they induce a presupposition in the clause determined either by the linguistic
context or by the universe of discourse.
The particles we consider also share the following distributional prop-
erty: They can occur in sentence-final position, a fact that—we claim—can
be derived by movement of the whole clause to the specifier position of the
head occupied by the particle. We take this head to be a high functional head
in the split CP layer, which can attract to its specifier either a wh-item or its
whole complement. This explains why some particles can also occur either
immediately after the wh-element or with a wh-item in isolation.
This study is organized as follows: In Section 2 we provide a descrip-
tion of the syntactic properties shared by all SPs; in Section 3 we examine
more closely the interpretive properties and attempt a description of the
semantic contribution of each particle; in Section 4 we address the issue of
the categorial status of the particles, providing some arguments in favour
of the hypothesis that SPs are heads; in Section 5 we analyse in detail the
syntactic derivation, exploiting clause preposing; and in Section 6 we offer
a summary.

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