Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 235–271

Prominence scales and unmarked word order in Spanish

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11049-006-9012-7

Cite this article as:
Gutiérrez-Bravo, R. Nat Language Linguistic Theory (2007) 25: 235. doi:10.1007/s11049-006-9012-7


This paper deals with a number of facts related to the word order of Spanish declarative clauses and develops an analysis where the unmarked word order of Spanish clauses with different classes of verbs is not determined by syntactic conditions such as Case or agreement, but rather by structural conditions that are closely related to the thematic role of the different arguments of the verb. The analysis is based on a set of data that point to the conclusion that even though unmarked word order in Spanish is not determined by Case or agreement considerations, it is still mostly regulated by the EPP. However, these same data indicate that (a) the EPP is a requirement operative in some constructions but not in others, and (b) phrases other than the subject DP can satisfy the EPP. This paper develops an Optimality Theoretic account of these facts where the core of the analysis consists of introducing the notion of the Pole of the clause, defined as the highest specifier of the inflectional layer, and developing a set of markedness constraints whose interaction determines when and whether this specifier position is occupied. Central to this analysis are the characterization of the EPP as a violable constraint that requires the Pole specifier to be filled, and the use of Harmonic Alignment to formalize a hierarchy of markedness constraints that target the relative markedness of an argument or adjunct when it occupies the Pole specifier, independently of the grammatical relation it bears.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CIESASMexicoMexico
  2. 2.MexicoMexico

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