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Title: Impersonal si constructions. Agreement and interpretation.
Authors: D'Alessandro, Roberta Anna Grazia
Keywords: Indo-European Languages
Romance Languages
Issue Date: 2004
Publisher: Universität Stuttgart
Abstract: This dissertation investigates the structural representation and the interpretation of impersonal si constructions in Italian. The aim of this work is twofold: on the one hand, I attempt to provide an explanation for previously overlooked phenomena involving ISCs, such as the tran¬sitive agreement alternation, the person restriction on the object, and past participle agreement with unergative and unaccusative verbs and in copular constructions. On the other hand, I wish to contribute to the development of current syntactic theory by showing the necessity of considering additional syntactic features, which I call a-features, that encode semantic/deictic information. I propose a 'new' syntactic operation: Concord, which targets precisely these semantico-pragmatic features and locally determines adjectival and participial agreement. Concord is a special form of Chomsky's Agree, which targets a different feature set and is active on a phrasal domain. Thus, I distinguish between Agree, which targets the traditional 0-features and may act long-distance to obtain subject-verb agreement, and Concord, which targets the semantico-pragmatic a-set, and acts within a phrasal domain to obtain adjectival and participial agreement. Up to now, verbal semantics or Aktionsart has been hardly taken into account in the literature on ISCs. The present work is framed in such a way as to capture the contribution of verbal semantics for the agreement patterns of ISCs. More specifically, assuming that the verbal semantics is reflected in the syntax of a VP, I show that the semantic configuration determines the agreement patterns of ISCs. A large part of this work is also devoted to the interpretation of ISCs: ISCs may be interpreted as generic, existential, or inclusive. The reference set that si selects may be a purely generic one (generic reading), or there may be a group of people satisfying the property expressed by the predicate (existential). This group may be specified for inclusiveness (inclusive), i.e. it may include the speaker, or it may not. This work is aimed at identifying the causes for the generic/inclusive alternation. A pragmatico-syntactic analysis for the phenomenon of inclusiveness is also provided.
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