Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton February 21, 2008

Focusing the “right” way in Romance determiner phrases

Judy B Bernstein
From the journal


This article examines constructions involving DP-final demonstratives, possessive adjectives, indefinite quantifiers, and demonstrative reinforcers in several Romance languages. Across these languages the DP-final position of these elements yields a focus interpretation, whereas the prenominal position yields a neutral interpretation. Other approaches to these sorts of facts have (tacitly) treated the two available word orders as equivalent constructions. They have not considered, and so cannot easily account for, the distinct interpretation that each of the word orders yields. Under the assumption that the prenominal position of these elements is basic, the current approach develops the idea that the DP-final element is “stranded” DP finally as a result of the leftward movement of a syntactic phrase consisting of an extended NP. The facts examined here recall those characterizing the expression of focus in the Romance clause, recently analyzed as a case of scrambling (Ordóñez 1997, Zubizarreta 1998). If on the right track, the current analysis therefore provides further evidence for the parallelism between noun phrases and clauses. In certain Romance languages, an intermediate (postnominal) position is also available for these DP elements , although the interpretation associated with this position does not exactly match that of either the prenominal or DP-final position. It is proposed that the intermediate position is derived by crossing the noun over the demonstrative (reinforcer), possessive, or indefinite quantifier, whose base positions within DP are relatively high. The prediction then is that only those languages with robust noun movement (that is, movement to a relatively high functional head) will exhibit this word order.

Published Online: 2008-02-21
Published in Print: 2001-03-16

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