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  • Fare: Elementi di sintassi by Nunzio La Fauci and Ignazio Mirto
  • Roberta D’Alessandro
Fare: Elementi di sintassi. By Nunzio La Fauci and Ignazio Mirto. Pisa: Edizioni ETS, 2003. Pp. 108. ISBN 8846708164. €9.

This book deals with the syntax of the Italian verb fare (‘to do, to make’) in a functionalist perspective. Nunzio la Fauci and Ignazio Mirto (L&M) develop a syntactic analysis of fare within the framework of relational grammar. The book consists of four chapters characterized by humorous titles that refer to the history of Adam and Eve. While Chs. 1–3 address the fare issue in depth, Ch. 4 proves very tentative.

In Ch. 1, L&M first provide a short introduction to relational grammar. Causative fare is then examined, and the conclusion is drawn that its role in a sentence is to increase the number of grammatical functions that a predicate may license. Causative fare licenses an additional argument of the verb, but fare can never initiate a new syntactic configuration. Rather, it needs to be added during the derivation. The second part of Ch. 1 addresses the peculiar use of fare in reflexive causative constructions, such as farsi notare (‘to draw attention to oneself’).

Ch. 2 is dedicated to another fare-construction, the predicative one. In addition to its causative meaning, fare also has a predicative use and can be used in predicative constructions in combination with a noun, like in Adamo fa una carezza ad Eva (‘Adam caresses Eve’, lit. ‘Adam makes a caress to Eve’). This use of fare is called by L&M ‘support-fare’. Support-fare and causative fare show functional complementarity. In this chapter, the substantial differences between predicative noun constructions with fare and plain verb constructions are elaborated.

In Ch. 3, the use of fare with nouns denoting professions is examined. First, L&M reject Lorenzo Renzi and Laura Vanelli’s (‘È un ingegnere/è ingegnere (e anche fa l’ingegnere)’, Lingua nostra 36.81–82, 1975) hypothesis according to which a construction like fare l’ingegnere (‘be an engineer’) may be analyzed as bearing an underlying meaning, roughly translatable as ‘do what an engineer does’. According to L&M, this explanation is flawed by clear functional indeterminacy and is therefore inadequate. As an alternative explanation, they propose that this use of fare offers a suppletive mechanism of word formation, due to the fact that verbs such as ‘ingegnerare’ and ‘giornalistare’ (lit. ‘to engineer’, ‘to journalist’) are absent in Italian. One can observe, however, that these forms are also absent in other languages, and one does not necessarily want to assume that ‘is a journalist’ is a suppletive word formation rule to ‘to journalist’ or ‘journalize’ and the like.

The fourth and last chapter concerns the use of fare + noun with the meaning ‘to play, to represent’ + noun. According to L&M, fare is a very flexible verb, and this is what allows for its use in such constructions. An epilogue summarizes the central idea of the book: fare is a flexible verb, almost like an auxiliary.

Roberta D’Alessandro
University of Cambridge


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