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Rethinking Verb Second$
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Rebecca Woods and Sam Wolfe

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198844303

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198844303.001.0001

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Rethinking Verb Second and Nominative case assignment

Rethinking Verb Second and Nominative case assignment

New insights from a Germanic variety in Northern Italy

(p.575) 24 Rethinking Verb Second and Nominative case assignment
Rethinking Verb Second

Ermenegildo Bidese

Andrea Padovan

Alessandra Tomaselli

Oxford University Press

Cimbrian is a German(ic) VO heritage language that does not display the linear V2 restriction: the DP subject can show up before the finite verb together with other constituents, while German-like verb-subject inversion only obtains with clitic pronouns. In recent literature on Cimbrian, pronominal subject inversion has been taken as a traditional argument in favour of mandatory V-to-C movement (assuming a split-C configuration). Building on this assumption, the syntax of the enclitic expletive subject, -da/-ta, (which shows up whenever the DP subject does not raise in the C-domain) makes the Cimbrian data particularly relevant, since it casts light on the correlation between V2 and Nominative case licensing. The stance in this chapter is that Nominative case in Cimbrian is assigned by C—as generally assumed for Germanic V2 languages—but in an idiosyncratic way: (i) it applies within the C domain, i.e. FinP; (ii) expletive -da/-ta absorbs Nominative case and acts as a defective goal with respect to the ‘low’ subject. On the basis of the feature-spreading model in Ouali (2008), the phasal head C in Cimbrian is taken to ‘KEEP’ its relevant ϕ‎- and T-features, to assign Nominative case in [Spec,FinP], and to triggering mandatory V-movement.

Keywords:   Cimbrian, V2, case, feature-spreading model, subject

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