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Assessing phonological correlates of syntactic change the case of Late Latin weak BE

Abstract : This chapter analyzes the puzzling word order behavior of be-auxiliaries in the history of Latin. Corpus data show that in Late Latin, periphrastic verb forms consisting of a past participle and a form of esse ‘be’ strongly prefer the head-final order ‘PaPa - be’, which – as is well known – does not survive in Romance. This generalization does not however hold in all syntactic environments: most notably, negated be-periphrases with a monosyllabic form of esse actually prefer the order ‘be - PaPa’. An account is developed which evaluates the status of Late Latin be-auxiliaries at the syntax-prosody interface. The core proposal is that Late Latin has two distinct lexical items esse , viz. ‘strong be’ and ‘weak be’. The lexical entry of the latter variant (which is the one most commonly used in verbal periphrases) specifies that weak be is phonologically deficient, in the sense that it can fail to project a prosodic word, in which case it has to occur in an extrametrical position at the right edge of a phonological phrase. The effect of negation on word order is explained in prosodic terms too: being proclitic, the Late Latin negator non forms a complex head together with weak be, and this whole complex is automatically mapped onto an independent prosodic word. At a general level, the chapter argues that at least in some cases, it is necessary to take into account prosodic considerations to correctly understand word order change.
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Contributor : Lieven Danckaert Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Friday, August 27, 2021 - 9:43:06 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, October 19, 2021 - 11:31:25 PM





Lieven Danckaert. Assessing phonological correlates of syntactic change the case of Late Latin weak BE. Syntactic Features and the Limits of Syntactic Change, Oxford University Press, pp.178-209, 2021, ⟨10.1093/oso/9780198832584.003.0009⟩. ⟨hal-03327148⟩



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