Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 391–434 | Cite as

The role of agreement in clitic-doubled constructions

  • Margarita Suñer

Summary and Conclusion

We began with the premise that doubling with DO- and IO-CLs requires that both elements of the chain agree in features. With IOs, doubling is universal because the features of the IO argument are practically irrelevant (section 1.1). However, since DO-CLs are inherently specific, this feature is crucial for DO-doubling to be grammatical. Animacy is the second feature necessary in most contexts. However, as pointed out in section 1.3.1, doubling may operate even in the absence of the latter. The same matching of features required of doubling constructions is required under extraction (a subset of doubling structures), hence, no special mechanisms are needed to reject ill-formed sentences. What causes ungrammaticality in extractions from CL-D DOs is a clash between the specific referential CL and a nonspecific interpreted object argument, a violation of the Matching Principle. Since lexical partitives and unagreement phenomena are productive ways to signal the specificity of the DO, extractions at LF and in the syntax proper can produce well-formed sentences (section 2.2). Moreover, the Matching Principle follows directly from the unique indexing peculiar to chain coindexing and Spec-head agreement.

These results have two main consequences: (a) the hypothesis that CLs are agreement morphemes which do not absorb Case becomes viable. This claim is supported by the doubling of inanimates (section 1.3.1) and even of some animates (17) in the absence of a, by facts about Case with IOs (section 1.3.2), and by weak cross-over effects (section 3.1) where CLs-as-agreement serve to identify the relevant empty category. (b) Since extractions of both CL-D IOs (section 2.1) and CL-D DOs (section 2.2) are possible, it follows that CLs are not theta-role absorbers, because the doubled constituent must be in an argument position. The moral is that the absence of extraction does not itself show that the double is in an A' position. Rather one must look deeper to discover whether independent principles in the language can account for lack of extraction in such contexts.1

Finally, the assumption that datives in a CL-chain are NPs and not PPs (see Appendix) makes possible the generalization that contemporary Spanish CLs — whether direct or indirect — enter only into nominal chains, a generalization confirmed by their parallel behavior with respect to weak crossover and scope (sections 3.1–3.2). This conclusion brings the analysis of Spanish in line with those of French and Rumanian (Steriade 1980/81) where datives have been argued to be NPs, and it opens the door for the possibility that datives in all the Romance languages might be nominal in nature.2

  1. 1.

    For extensions of our main hypothesis to other Spanish dialects see Suñer (1986).

  2. 2.

    Interestingly, datives are also NPs in Hebrew (Borer and Grodzinsky 1986).


Main Hypothesis Unique Indexing Parallel Behavior Argument Position Romance Language 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aoun, Joseph: 1981, The Formal Nature of Anaphoric Relations, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, MIT.Google Scholar
  2. Barrenechea, Ana María and Teresa Orecchia: 1977, ‘La duplicación de objetos directos e indirectos en el español hablado en Buenos Aires’, in J. M. Lope Blanch (ed.), Estudios sobre el espa431–1ol hablado en las principales ciudades de América, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, pp. 351–381.Google Scholar
  3. Barss, Andrew and Howard Lasnik: 1986, ‘A Note on Anaphora and Double Objects’, Linguistic Inquiry 17, 347–354.Google Scholar
  4. Barwise, Jon and Robin Cooper: 1981, ‘Generalized Quantifiers and Natural Language’, Linguistics and Philosophy 4, 159–219.Google Scholar
  5. Bello, Andrés: 1970, Gramática de la lengua castellana, revised by R. J. Cuervo and N. Alcalá-Zamora y Torres, Sopena, Buenos Aires.Google Scholar
  6. Bentivoglio, Paola: 1978, ‘Formación de clíticos: análisis sobre el habla culta de Caracas’, in H. López Morales (ed.), Corrientes actuales de la dialectología del Caribe hispánico, Editorial Universitaria, Puerto Rico.Google Scholar
  7. Beukenkamp, Margarita Suñer: 1973, Non-paradigmatic Se's in Spanish, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University.Google Scholar
  8. Borer, Hagit: 1981, Parametric Variation in Clitic Constructions, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, MIT.Google Scholar
  9. —: 1984, Parametric Syntax, Foris, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  10. Borer, Hagit and Yosef Grodzinsky: 1986, ‘Syntactic Cliticization and Lexical Cliticization: The Case of Hebrew Dative Clitics’, in H. Borer (ed.), Syntax and Semantics 19, The Syntax of Pronominal Clitics, Academic Press, Orlando, Florida, pp. 175–217.Google Scholar
  11. Bosque, Ignacio and Juan Carlos Moreno: 1984, ‘A Condition on Quantifiers in Logical Form’, Linguistic Inquiry 15, 164–167.Google Scholar
  12. Bresnan, Joan: 1982, ‘Control and Complementation’, Linguistic Inquiry 13, 343–434.Google Scholar
  13. Bull, William: 1965, Spanish for Teachers: Applied Linguistics, Ronald Press, New York.Google Scholar
  14. Chafe, Wallace: 1976, ‘Givenness, Contrastiveness, Definiteness, Subjects, Topics, and Point of View’, in Charles Li (ed.), Subject and Topic, Academic Press, New York, pp. 25–55.Google Scholar
  15. Chomsky, Noam: 1965, Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  16. —: 1976, ‘Conditions on Rules of Grammar’, Linguistic Analysis 2, 303–351.Google Scholar
  17. —: 1977, ‘On WH-Movement’, in P. Culicover et al. (eds.), Formal Syntax, Academic Press, New York, pp. 71–132.Google Scholar
  18. —: 1981, Lectures on Government and Binding, Foris, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  19. —: 1982, Some Concepts and Consequences of the Theory of Government and Binding, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  20. —: 1986a, Knowledge of Language: Its Nature, Origin and Use, Praeger, New York.Google Scholar
  21. —: 1986b, Barriers, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  22. Comorovski, Ileana: 1984, ‘On Clitic Doubling’, unpublished paper, Cornell University.Google Scholar
  23. Comrie, Bernard: 1981, Language Universals and Linguistic Typology, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  24. Dalbor, John and H. Tracy Sturcken: 1965, Oral Spanish Review, Holt, Rhinehart and Winston, New York.Google Scholar
  25. Denevi, Mario: 1964, Rosaura, Scribner's, New York.Google Scholar
  26. Engdahl, Elisabet: 1982, ‘Constituent Questions, Topicalizations, and Surface Structure Interpretation’, Proceedings of the First West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, Stanford University.Google Scholar
  27. Everett, Daniel: 1986, ‘Pirahā Clitic Doubling and the Parametrization of Nominal Clitics’, MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 8, 85–127.Google Scholar
  28. Fish, Gordon: 1958, ‘The Redundant Construction in Standard Spanish’, Hispania 41, 324–331.Google Scholar
  29. —: 1968, ‘The Indirect Object and the Redundant Construction’, Hispania 51, 862–866.Google Scholar
  30. Fodor, Janet and Ivan Sag; 1982, ‘Referential and Quantificational Indefinites’, Linguistics and Philosophy 5, 355–398.Google Scholar
  31. Gili Gaya, Samuel: 1973, Curso superior de sintaxis espa432–1ola, Vox, Barcelona.Google Scholar
  32. Givón, Talmy: 1976, ‘Topic, Pronoun and Grammatical Agreement’, in C. Li (ed.), Subject and Topic, Academic Press, New York, pp. 149–188.Google Scholar
  33. Heger, Klaus: 1966, La conjugaison objective en français et en espagnol, Langages 3, 19–39.Google Scholar
  34. Heim, Irene: 1984, ‘Where does the Definiteness Restriction Apply? Evidence from the Definiteness of Variables’, unpublished ms., University of Texas at Austin.Google Scholar
  35. Higginbotham, James: 1980a, ‘Pronouns and Bound Variables’, Linguistic Inquiry 11, 679–708.Google Scholar
  36. --: 1980b, ‘Anaphora and GB: Some Preliminary Remarks’, NELS X, Cahiers Linguistiques d'Ottawa, Dept. of Linguistics, University of Ottawa, pp. 223–236.Google Scholar
  37. Hinnebusch, Thomas: 1979, ‘Swahili’, in Tim Shopen (ed.), Languages and their Status, Winthrop, Cambridge, Mass., pp. 209–293.Google Scholar
  38. Huang, James: 1982, Logical Relations in Chinese and the Theory of Grammar, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, MIT.Google Scholar
  39. —: 1984, ‘On the Distribution and Reference of Empty Pronouns’, Linguistic Inquiry 15, 531–574.Google Scholar
  40. Hurtado, Alfredo: 1984a, ‘Clitic Chains’, unpublished ms., Simon Fraser.Google Scholar
  41. —: 1984b, ‘On the Properties of LF’, Cornell Working Papers in Linguistics 6, 121–149.Google Scholar
  42. —: 1985, ‘The Unagreement Hypothesis’, in L. King and C. Maley (eds.), Selected Papers from the XIIIth Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages, Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp. 187–211.Google Scholar
  43. Isenberg, Horst: 1968, Das direkte Objekt im Spanischen, Studia Grammatica IX, Akademie-Verlag, Berlin.Google Scholar
  44. Jackendoff, Ray: 1977, \(\bar X\) -Syntax: A Study of Phrase Structure, Linguistic Inquiry Monograph 2, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  45. Jaeggli, Osvaldo: 1982, Topics in Romance Syntax, Foris, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  46. —: 1986a, ‘Arbitrary Plural Pronominals’, Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 4, 43–76.Google Scholar
  47. —: 1986b, ‘Three Issues in the Theory of Clitics: Case, Doubled NPs, and Extraction’, in H. Borer (ed.), Syntax and Semantics 19, The Syntax of Pronominal Clitics, Academic Press, Orlando Florida, pp. 15–42.Google Scholar
  48. Kany, Charles: 1969, Sintaxis hispanoamericana, Gredos, Madrid.Google Scholar
  49. Kayne, Richard: 1975, French Syntax: The Transformational Cycle, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  50. King, Larry: 1984, ‘The Semantics of Direct Object a in Spanish’, Hispania 67, 397–403.Google Scholar
  51. Klavans, Judith: 1985, ‘The Independence of Syntax and Phonology in Cliticization’, Language 61, 95–120.Google Scholar
  52. Koopman, Hilda and Dominique Sportiche: 1982/83, ‘Variables and the Bijection Principle’, The Linguistic Review 2, 139–160.Google Scholar
  53. Lenz, Rodolfo: 1920, La oración y sus partes, Revista de filología espa433–1ola, Madrid.Google Scholar
  54. Lois, Ximena: 1982, ‘Sur l'accusatif prepositionnel’, Mémoire de Maîtrise (Master's thesis), Paris VIII.Google Scholar
  55. Llorente, A. and J. Mondéjar: 1974, ‘La conjugación objetiva en espa433–1ol’, Revista espa433–1ola de lingüística 4, 1–60.Google Scholar
  56. Milsark, Gary: 1977, ‘Toward an Explanation of Certain Peculiarities of the Existential Construction in English’, Linguistic Analysis 3, 1–29.Google Scholar
  57. Morgan, J. L.: 1972, ‘Some Aspects of Relative Clauses in English and Albanian’, The Chicago Which Hunt, Chicago Linguistic Society, Chicago, pp. 63–72.Google Scholar
  58. Ojeda, Almerindo: 1984, ‘A Note on the Spanish Neuter’, Linguistic Inquiry 15, 171–173.Google Scholar
  59. Perlmutter, David: 1972, Deep and Surface Structure Constraints in Syntax, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York.Google Scholar
  60. Plann, Susan: 1980, Relative Clauses in Spanish without Overt Antecedents and Related Constructions, University of California Publications in Linguistics, vol. 93.Google Scholar
  61. Poston, Lawrence: 1953, ‘The Redundant Object Pronoun in Contemporary Spanish’, Hispania 36, 263–272.Google Scholar
  62. Quirk, Randolph, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, and Jan Svartvik: 1972, A Grammar of Contemporary English, Seminar Press, New York and London.Google Scholar
  63. Ramsey, Marathon: 1956 [1896], A Textbook of Modern Spanish, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York.Google Scholar
  64. Real Academia Espa433–1ola (RAE): 1974, Esbozo de una nueva gramática de la lengua espa433–1ola, Espasa-Calpe, Madrid.Google Scholar
  65. Rivas, Alfredo: 1977, A Theory of Clitics, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, MIT.Google Scholar
  66. Rivero, María Luisa: 1977, ‘Specifity and Existence: a Reply’, Language 53, 70–85.Google Scholar
  67. —: 1980, ‘On Left-dislocation and Topicalization in Spanish’, Linguistic Inquiry 11, 363–393.Google Scholar
  68. —: 1986, ‘Parameters in the Typology of Clitics in Romance, and Old Spanish’, Language 62, 774–807.Google Scholar
  69. Rizzi, Luigi: 1986a, ‘Null Objects in Italian and the Theory of pro’, Linguistic Inquiry 17, 501–557.Google Scholar
  70. —: 1986b, ‘On the Status of Subject Clitics in Romance’, in O. Jaeggli and C. Silva-Corvalán (eds.), Studies in Romance Linguistics, Foris, Dordrecht, pp. 301–419.Google Scholar
  71. —: 1986c, ‘Chain Formation’, in H. Borer (ed.), Syntax and Semantics 19, The Syntax of Pronominal Clitics, Academic Press, Orlando, Florida, pp. 65–95.Google Scholar
  72. Roberge, Yves: 1986, The Syntactic Recoverability of Null Arguments, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of British Columbia.Google Scholar
  73. Roldán, Mercedes: 1971, ‘The Double Object Constructions of Spanish’, Language Sciences 15, 8–14.Google Scholar
  74. —: 1973, ‘Reflexivization in Spanish’, in R. Nash (ed.), Readings in Spanish-English Contrastive Linguistics, Inter American University, Puerto Rico, pp. 197–219.Google Scholar
  75. Safir, Ken: 1984, ‘Multiple Variable Binding’, Linguistic Inquiry 14, 603–638.Google Scholar
  76. Silva-Corvalán, Carmen: 1981, ‘The Diffusion of Object-Verb Agreement in Spanish’, in H. Contreras and J. Klausenburger (eds.), Proceedings of the Tenth Anniversary Symposium on Romance Linguistics, Papers in Romance, Supplement II, pp. 163–176.Google Scholar
  77. Steriade, Donca: 1980/81, ‘Clitic Doubling in the Romanian WH Constructions and the Analysis of Topicalization’, Papers from the Regional Meeting, v. 16, Chicago Linguistic Society, Chicago, pp. 282–297.Google Scholar
  78. Stowell, Tim: 1981, Origins of Phrase Structure, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, MIT.Google Scholar
  79. Strozer, Judith: 1976, Clitics in Spanish, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, UCLA.Google Scholar
  80. Su434–1er, Margarita: 1980, ‘Clitic Promotion in Spanish Revisited’, in F. Nuessel (ed.), Contemporary Studies in Romance Languages, Indiana University Linguistics Club, Bloomington, pp. 300–330.Google Scholar
  81. —: 1983, ‘proarb’, Linguistic Inquiry 14, 188–191.Google Scholar
  82. —: 1984, ‘Free Relatives and the Matching Parameter’, The Linguistic Review 3, 363–388.Google Scholar
  83. —: 1986, ‘Dialectal Variation and Clitic-doubled Direct Objects’, to appear in C. Kirschner and J. DeCesaris (eds.), Studies in Romance Linguistics. Selected Proceedings from the LSRL XVII, Benjamins, Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  84. Torrego, Esther: 1984, ‘On Inversion in Spanish and Some of its Effects’, Linguistic Inquiry 15, 103–129.Google Scholar
  85. Zubizarreta, María Luisa: 1985, ‘The Relation between Morphophonology and Morphosyntax: The Case of Romance Causatives’, Linguistic Inquiry 16, 247–289.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margarita Suñer
    • 1
  1. 1.DMLL, Morrill HallCornell UniversityIthaca

Personalised recommendations