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L’é ciaro che se dise cusì. On Change in the System of Expletive Subject Clitics in Opitergino


Zanini, Chiara; Battistella, Greta; Gardani, Francesco (2023). L’é ciaro che se dise cusì. On Change in the System of Expletive Subject Clitics in Opitergino. Journal of Linguistics:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

Expletive subject clitics (ESCs) are pronominal elements that occur in impersonal contexts with which no individual reference is associated. Their presence strikingly distinguishes northern Italo-Romance varieties from standard Italian. We target this structural incongruence by studying the occurrence of ESCs in present-day Opitergino, a virtually unstudied Venetan variety. We explore the question of whether, in the wake of a profound transformation in the sociolinguistic environment that occurred between the first half of the 20th century and early 2020 years, the contact between Opitergino and now-dominant Italian has induced change in the Opitergino ESC system. To test whether change has occurred and to what extent, we compare the results of an extensive online survey we conducted in 2022 with the baseline rules we extracted from speakers born before 1942. We observe that while the system is overall stable, a thread of change is ongoing and manifests in (a) rule weakening in declaratives and (b) erosion of the obligatoriness of ESCs in interrogatives. We argue that this change is likely to be an effect of contact, resulting in structural convergence but not in loss, and affected the part of the ESC system that features more optionality, namely, the domain of declarative clauses.

Abstract

Expletive subject clitics (ESCs) are pronominal elements that occur in impersonal contexts with which no individual reference is associated. Their presence strikingly distinguishes northern Italo-Romance varieties from standard Italian. We target this structural incongruence by studying the occurrence of ESCs in present-day Opitergino, a virtually unstudied Venetan variety. We explore the question of whether, in the wake of a profound transformation in the sociolinguistic environment that occurred between the first half of the 20th century and early 2020 years, the contact between Opitergino and now-dominant Italian has induced change in the Opitergino ESC system. To test whether change has occurred and to what extent, we compare the results of an extensive online survey we conducted in 2022 with the baseline rules we extracted from speakers born before 1942. We observe that while the system is overall stable, a thread of change is ongoing and manifests in (a) rule weakening in declaratives and (b) erosion of the obligatoriness of ESCs in interrogatives. We argue that this change is likely to be an effect of contact, resulting in structural convergence but not in loss, and affected the part of the ESC system that features more optionality, namely, the domain of declarative clauses.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Romance Studies
06 Faculty of Arts > Zurich Center for Linguistics
Dewey Decimal Classification:460 Spanish & Portuguese languages
470 Latin & Italic languages
490 Other languages
440 French & related languages
410 Linguistics
890 Other literatures
450 Italian, Romanian & related languages
800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism
Uncontrolled Keywords:linguistics; clitics; subject clitics; Venetan varieties; Italo-Romance varieties; language contact; contact-induced syntactic change; syntax; optionality; expletive subject clitics
Language:English
Date:7 November 2023
Deposited On:09 Nov 2023 15:42
Last Modified:27 Jun 2024 03:37
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:0022-2267
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1017/s0022226723000282
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)