I analyze the Romance descendants of Latin aliquis ‘some or other’, which are characterized by a complex pattern of variation in the contemporary Romance languages. I account for this variation in terms of diverging diachronic paths, tracing their determinants back to a process taking place between Classical and late Latin. Classical Latin only used aliquis as an epistemic indefinite, expressing ignorance about the identity of the referent. In late Latin a distributional extension is observed, and aliquis starts to be consistently found as an NPI in negative contexts. This multiplicity of uses is transmitted to medieval Romance and represents the prereq- uisite for contemporary variation. In their further history, some languages continue only one of the two uses. Other languages maintain both, but the meaning contrast comes to be related to a word-order difference. I analyze this difference as a syntactic DP-internal inversion operation, motivated by focus and connected to polarity sensitivity. Significantly, the diachronic path of the Romance descendants of aliquis contributes to our understanding of general mechanisms of semantic change, since it instantiates a cline of development that can be related to varying (hence, diachronically changing) constraints on quantificational domains.

DP-internal Inversion and Negative Polarity: Latin aliquis and its Romance Descendants

Gianollo, Chiara
2020

Abstract

I analyze the Romance descendants of Latin aliquis ‘some or other’, which are characterized by a complex pattern of variation in the contemporary Romance languages. I account for this variation in terms of diverging diachronic paths, tracing their determinants back to a process taking place between Classical and late Latin. Classical Latin only used aliquis as an epistemic indefinite, expressing ignorance about the identity of the referent. In late Latin a distributional extension is observed, and aliquis starts to be consistently found as an NPI in negative contexts. This multiplicity of uses is transmitted to medieval Romance and represents the prereq- uisite for contemporary variation. In their further history, some languages continue only one of the two uses. Other languages maintain both, but the meaning contrast comes to be related to a word-order difference. I analyze this difference as a syntactic DP-internal inversion operation, motivated by focus and connected to polarity sensitivity. Significantly, the diachronic path of the Romance descendants of aliquis contributes to our understanding of general mechanisms of semantic change, since it instantiates a cline of development that can be related to varying (hence, diachronically changing) constraints on quantificational domains.
Gianollo, Chiara
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/772589
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