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International Journal of Romance Linguistics

Editor-in-Chief: Wetzels, W. Leo

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Volume 21, Issue 2


The high applicative syntax of the dativus commodi/incommodi in Romance

Yves Roberge / Michelle Troberg
Published Online: 2010-01-29 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/prbs.2009.008


Dative benefactive/adversative arguments, also known as the ‘dativus commodi/incommodi’ (DCI) in the Latin grammatical tradition, present variable behaviour in Romance. This paper compares and contrasts the syntactic restrictions on DCIs in five Romance languages to reveal that clitic-doubling covaries with the possibility of lexical DCIs and the possibility of combining the DCI with a bare unergative. We argue that Pylkkänen's (Introducing arguments, MIT, 2002) High Applicative analysis should be broadened to account for these Romance datives and their variable behaviour so that the DCI clitic is always generated as the head of a high applicative projection. Doubling and non-doubling languages diverge based on the type of D-element that merges in the specifier of ApplP. In clitic-doubling languages (Romanian and Spanish), the DCI essentially matches the Bantu high applicative construction in that lexical datives, as DPs, are merged in the specifier position of the applicative phrase. The Appl head in doubling languages may also introduce a pro as an applied argument whose reference is recovered via the agree relation established with the applied morpheme. In non-doubling languages (French, Portuguese, Italian), the DCI functions quite differently. It may only occur in clitic form as the head of the applied phrase, since lexical indirect objects are PPs and consequently may not merge in Spec,ApplP. A result of this restriction is that an expletive operator is merged in the specifier, binding a VP-internal referential DP, accounting for the restriction on bare unergatives.

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Published Online: 2010-01-29

Published in Print: 2009-12-01

Citation Information: Probus, Volume 21, Issue 2, Pages 249–289, ISSN (Online) 1613-4079, ISSN (Print) 0921-4771, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/prbs.2009.008.

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