Abstract

The status of subject clitics in French has been heavily debated (Kayne 1975, Rizzi 1986, Roberge 1990, Auger 1994b, Miller & Sag 1997, De Cat 2007b, and many others). Distributional properties of French subject clitics have led Kayne (1975), Rizzi (1986), and others to analyze them as argument-bearing elements occupying canonical subject position, cliticizing to the verb only at the level of the phonology. While this hypothesis enjoys a wide following, a growing body of evidence suggests that it fails to capture patterns of subject-clitic use in colloquial French dialects/registers (Roberge 1990, Auger 1994b, Zribi-Hertz 1994, Miller & Sag 1997). Using new evidence from prosodic and corpus analyses, speaker judgments, and crosslinguistic typology, this article argues that (i) European Colloquial French exhibits differences from Standard French that impact how subject clitics are best analyzed, and more specifically (ii) subject clitics in European Colloquial French are affixal agreement markers, not phonological clitic arguments.

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