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  • A- and Ā-Movement in Romanian Supine Constructions
  • Cristina Dye

1 Introduction

Romanian supine sentences with tough-predicates, such as (1a-b), are a classical example of a construction for which both Ā-movement (Grosu and Horvath 1987:183n3, Rubin 1995:56-61) and A-movement (Hill 2002) analyses have been proposed. This controversy has not arisen in other Romance languages, where tough-constructions are analyzed as instances of A-movement.1 In this squib, I demonstrate that both A- and Ā-movement exist in Romanian, but that the former correlates with the presence of agreement. In (1a-b), the adjective is not marked for agreement, unlike predicate adjectives in most contexts in this language.

(1) Nonagreeing adjectives

  1. a. Aceste    poezii      sunt uşor de memorat.
    this-F.PL poem-F.PL are easy-Ø   DE memorize-SUP
    'These poems are easy to memorize.'

  2. b. Aceste   nume      sunt anevoie de reţinut.
    this-F.PL name-F.PL are hard-Ø DE retain-SUP
    'These names are hard to remember.'

However, unnoticed by previous researchers, there are in fact two distinct predicate adjective constructions in Romanian. In (2a-b), as opposed to (1a-b), the adjective agrees in gender and number with the DP.

(2) Agreeing adjectives

  1. a. Aceste   poezii     sunt uşoare    de memorat.2
    this-F.PL poem-F.PL are easy-F.PL DE memorize-SUP
    'These poems are easy to memorize.'

  2. b. Aceste   roşii       sunt bune de aruncat.
    this-F.PL tomato-F.PL are good-F.PL DE throw-SUP
    'These tomatoes are good to throw away.'

In what follows, I show that sentences like (1a-b) involve Ā-movement [End Page 665] of a silent wh-operator, resembling English tough-movement structures (Chomsky 1977, 1981), whereas sentences like (2a-b) involve A-movement of the DP in a clause union/restructuring context (e.g., Aissen and Perlmutter 1976, Rizzi 1976, Wurmbrand 2001).

Three preliminaries. First, the supine is a verbal noun morphologically identical to the past participle but invariable. Second, in the sentences in both (1) and (2), the DP acts as the surface subject in that it agrees with the main verb sunt 'are'; replacing sunt with e(ste) 'is' renders all these sentences ungrammatical. Third, the morphology of 'easy'/'hard' in (1) corresponds to the uninflected/masculine singular form of the adjective, which is homonymous with the adverb form. Some studies refer to this form as an adjective; others refer to it as an adverb. I consider adjectives and adverbs exponents of the same category A in Romanian (cf. Rubin 1995), and I consider the forms in (1) nonagreeing adjectives. In what follows, I will refer to the construction in (1a-b) as the nonagreeing construction and to that in (2a-b) as the agreeing construction.

2 A New Analysis

The analysis I sketch below is based on the general framework proposed by Chomsky (1995, 2000, 2001). Additionally, I assume that there are two functional categories between T and V: Pr(edication), which introduces the external argument, and Tr(ansitivity), which is responsible for checking accusative Case (Bowers 2002). With regard to the supine, I adopt two of the conclusions reached by Hill (2002). First, I assume that Romanian supine clauses lack TP since the supine is not compatible with negation, clitic pronouns, or auxiliaries, as shown in (3) (see also Grosu and Horvath 1987:192n9).

(3) Egreu de (*nu)/(*i)/(*fi)       adunat     materialul.
is hard DE (*not)/(*to-him)/(*be) gather-SUP material-the
'It is hard not to have gathered the material for/to him.'

(based on Hill 2002)

Second, I follow Hill in assuming that the supine verb moves to "light v," which corresponds to Pr in Bowers's (2002) theory. Hill's assumption is based on the fact that short, TP-independent adverbs such as iar 'again' may occur between the supine verb and the direct object, as in (4).

(4) Egreu de cules      iar    porumbul când ploua. in is hard DE gather-SUP again corn-the when rains in fiecare zi.
every day
'It is hard to gather again the corn when it rains every day.'

(from Hill 2002)

Let us now turn to the status of the particle de. Although...


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