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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter (A) October 25, 2014

On asymmetric pro-drop in Mòcheno. Pinning down the role of contact in the maintenance of a root-embedded asymmetry

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Abstract

In this article I demonstrate that in two varieties of Mòcheno, a German dialect spoken by about 600 people in the Fersina valley (Trentino, Northern Italy), referential null subjects can be licensed in main, but not in embedded clauses. This particular root-embedded asymmetry, known as “asymmetric pro-drop” (Benincà 1984), had until now been considered to be fully absent from modern Romance (Benincà 2006) and German varieties (cf. Volodina & Weiß 2012). Through an examination of Old High German, Old Italian and modern Romance varieties, I show that asymmetric pro-drop is not an innovation introduced by contact with modern Romance varieties, but must be considered a conservative feature of older German varieties that has probably been maintained because it is shared with older Romance varieties (cf. Benincà 1994).

Published Online: 2014-10-25
Published in Print: 2014-11-1

©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Munich/Boston

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