Optionality is an issue within the minimalist theory of language, in which the principle of the “last resort” does not admit competing options to express the same meaning. What is needed is a solid empirical base showing that apparently competing forms do specialize for some syntactic/ semantic traits. Hence, the aim of this pilot study is to investigate optionality in the choice of competing indefinite determiners in Piacentine, an Italo-Romance variety spoken in north-western Italy. Sixteen native Piacentine speakers were presented with a questionnaire to collect linguistic data. Statistical analyses of the data were performed to seek correlations between the choice of the indefinite determiners and some syntactic/semantic traits that were controlled for. The results indicate that Piacentine displays four main determiners, labeled ART, di+art, bare di, and ZERO. ART and di+art are the most widespread determiners allowing both narrow and wide scope and occurring in all the investigated contexts. Bare di is instead the unmarked form for expressing non-existential indefiniteness in negative contexts and only has narrow scope. ZERO co-varies with bare di, and its use was strengthened by contact with Italian, preventing its loss, differently from French, which lost ZERO instead.

Optionality in the Expression of Indefiniteness: A Pilot Study on Piacentine

Luca Molinari
2022-01-01

Abstract

Optionality is an issue within the minimalist theory of language, in which the principle of the “last resort” does not admit competing options to express the same meaning. What is needed is a solid empirical base showing that apparently competing forms do specialize for some syntactic/ semantic traits. Hence, the aim of this pilot study is to investigate optionality in the choice of competing indefinite determiners in Piacentine, an Italo-Romance variety spoken in north-western Italy. Sixteen native Piacentine speakers were presented with a questionnaire to collect linguistic data. Statistical analyses of the data were performed to seek correlations between the choice of the indefinite determiners and some syntactic/semantic traits that were controlled for. The results indicate that Piacentine displays four main determiners, labeled ART, di+art, bare di, and ZERO. ART and di+art are the most widespread determiners allowing both narrow and wide scope and occurring in all the investigated contexts. Bare di is instead the unmarked form for expressing non-existential indefiniteness in negative contexts and only has narrow scope. ZERO co-varies with bare di, and its use was strengthened by contact with Italian, preventing its loss, differently from French, which lost ZERO instead.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/5010160
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