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Title:Verb syntax and the creation of a new verbal environment: Mechanisms of change from Latin to early and modern Romance
Author(s):Ortman, Hugh Carlton
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Gaeng, Paul A.
Department / Program:French
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Language, Linguistics
Literature, Medieval
Literature, Romance
Abstract:Difficulties in the identification of subjects and direct objects, resulting from the fall of the Latin nominal case system do not lead inexorably to a shift in the position of the finite verb and the rise of a fixed SVO constituent ordering. On the basis of a quantitative examination of the earliest Romance texts, including examples of epic poetry, religious poetry, and religious prose, I show these languages possessed numerous and redundant means of making such distinctions (including alternate casing schemes, agreements, and discourse strategies) and such ambiguity virtually never occurs.
The shift of the finite verb from near final in Classical Latin to second position in early Romance is part of a larger process which involves the creation and development of first position as well as a second position clitic cluster. The impetus is a Wackernagel-like law, the effects of which are, subsequently, greatly expanded by analogical extension. I give reasons for thinking that the introduction of the law began in Latin through dialectal convergence in Northern border areas early in the Empire. The law states that a "first" word tends to be accented and to be followed by unaccented material. In its origins, this notion of "first" is prosodic and discourse based and, by the time of the earliest Romance texts, still has not been fully reinterpreted in syntactic (clausal) terms. "First" develops into a position which is greatly expanded by analogy and serves several functions. Most of its occupants are, however, not topic.
The second position clitic cluster is another result of this law and varies among the early languages in terms of internal ordering and membership. Differences in behavior between members also occur. This heterogeneity reflects a cluster already significantly modified by analogical extension. An extended interpretation of "first" results in the appearance of these clitics at clausal boundaries and major prosodic breaks and leads to their eventual reanalysis as "first".
Auxiliaries have distributions which differ from finite verbs and main verbs and are essentially restricted to second position. Given the importance of analogy elsewhere, I argue for the shift of finite verbs into second position by analogy with these verbal clitics.
Issue Date:1995
Rights Information:Copyright 1995 Ortman, Hugh Carlton
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9522156
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9522156

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