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  • The Catalan clitic system: A diachronic perspective on its syntax and phonology by Susann Fischer
  • Adam Werle
The Catalan clitic system: A diachronic perspective on its syntax and phonology. By Susann Fischer. (Interface explorations 5.) Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2002. Pp. xiv, 252. ISBN 3110176130. $108 (Hb).

In this book Fischer contributes to the historical and theoretical study of Romance pronominal clitics by offering a detailed survey of the clausal ordering of Catalan clitics over the entire prose history of the language, from the thirteenth to the twentieth century. In her historical survey, F criticizes some existing generalizations about clitic ordering in medieval Romance, citing the variation that is attested even within individual languages. In her theoretical analysis of Catalan, F proposes that differences in the relative order of verb and clitics are due to verb movement, which takes place solely in the syntactic component of the grammar.

Ch. 1 introduces F’s main claims and discusses how the data were selected. Ch. 2 reviews the changes in clitic ordering observed in the data, comparing the Catalan facts with those from Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Italian. F finds that unlike in other Romance languages, clitics in Catalan have always been verb-adjacent. She also chronicles the increasing dominance of clitic doubling of full pronouns and the increased favoring of preverbal clitic ordering that occurred as the modern language developed. Crucially for her analysis, despite variation in the order of verb and clitics, the verb never precedes the clitics in negative clauses.

Ch. 3 presents some of the more prominent analyses of medieval Romance clitic ordering, highlighting the works of Anna Cardinaletti and Ian Roberts, Aaron Halpern, Josep Fontana, Paola Benincà, Ana Maria Martins, and others. F agrees with Cardinaletti and Roberts on the need for a projection between CP and AgrSP and with Martins that this is the ΣP of Itziar Laka’s 1990 MIT dissertation, which hosts both negation and affirmation.

In Ch. 4, F argues that clitics in Catalan must be heads, not phrases (though they may be phrases in other Romance languages). Catalan clitics are neither consistently in second position, nor consistently phonologically enclitic, though they are always verb-adjacent. She concludes that since the clitics apparently adjoin to the verb, they must be heads.

F presents her theoretical analysis in Ch. 5. She adopts the view that clitics move as phrases to the specifier of VP, then as heads to T0 in order to be interpreted as specific, where they procliticize to the verb. Postverbal clitic order results from verb raising to Σ0 in contexts of emphatic affirmation. This explains why the verb sometimes precedes the clitics in affirmative contexts but always follows them in negated clauses. F claims that the phonology cannot reorder Catalan clitics but only decides among clitic allomorphs depending on the phonological context.

In Ch. 6, having demonstrated that clitic ordering changed gradually rather than categorically across Romance, F observes that this supports a variationist view over a structuralist view of language change. She discusses possible functional motivations for the gradual loss of postverbal clitic order in Catalan, first in embedded clauses, then in main clauses. Using [End Page 523] minimal affirmative and negative answers to yes-no questions as a diagnostic, she concludes that of the modern Romance languages, only in Portuguese and Galician does the verb sometimes raise to Σ0.

Adam Werle
University of Massachusetts, Amherst


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pp. 523-524
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