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Linguistic Inquiry

Fall 2000, Vol. 31, No. 4, Pages 691-702
(doi: 10.1162/002438900554514)
© 2000 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“Postverbal” Subjects and the Mapping Hypothesis
Article PDF (35.96 KB)

Superficially postverbal subjects of free inversion languages such as Italian are argued to be able to meet two distinct structural analyses: they may occupy either a VP-internal position, as more traditionally assumed, or a higher (preverbal and, actually, left-peripheral) position, with the remnant of the clause crossing leftward over them by dislocation or focus movement. These are all and only the possibilities expected under recent restrictive theories of phrase structure, like the one advocated by Kayne (1994), and are exactly those empirically realized. Evidence for this conclusion is based primarily on the (existential/generic) interpretation of bare nouns and overt indefinites and is reinforced by extraction considerations. The whole analysis, based on the interpretation of Romance indefinites, is likely to support some version of Diesing's (1992) Mapping Hypothesis even more strongly than previous types of evidence did, including the original data from Germanic languages.