Lexical splits within periphrasis: mixed perfective auxiliation systems in Italo-Romance

Abstract

This paper addresses the phenomenon of mixed paradigms, i.e. mixed perfective auxiliation systems, attested in a wide range of Italo-Romance varieties (cf. Loporcaro 2001, 2007a, 2014; Manzini and Savoia 2005, among others). In these varieties, two auxiliary verbs, esse and habere, alternate within one and the same (sub)paradigm, displaying various patterns which can range from morphosyntactically motivated to apparently unmotivated distributions (here termed ‘morphomic’). I propose that, in these varieties, auxiliary selection is no longer a syntactically driven phenomenon, but becomes morphologized. I draw on the notion of ‘lexical split’ (cf. Corbett 2013, 2015, 2016) and describe the attested splits induced by intraparadigmatic auxiliary alternation. Following Bonami (2015), I put forward a typology of such splits. It is shown that, apart from motivated distributions, some morphomic patterns can also be found. The typology becomes more complex insofar as patterns with free variation between both auxiliaries are taken into account, as well as patently morphomic patterns which also seem to display external syntactic relevance (cf. Corbett 2013: 174–176). The phenomena reviewed and discussed in this paper are of major interest because they demonstrate the existence of competing exponence strategies within periphrasis, thus enriching the notion of ‘possible lexeme’ (cf. Corbett 2015: 146).

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Notes

  1. 1.

    I will use the Latin verbs esse/habere (and the corresponding capitals e/h) that represent etymologically the starting point of different outcomes of these auxiliaries. I thus avoid the need to specify the exact form of the verb in a given dialect. Unless otherwise stated, all data along with the IPA transcription come from Manzini and Savoia 2005: II/III.

  2. 2.

    I adopt the term ‘mixed paradigm’ in accordance with how the phenomenon of such auxiliary alternation is usually referred to in the literature, cf., e.g., Bentley and Eythórsson 2001: 63–64.

  3. 3.

    Cf. also Maiden (2016b: 708): “Not only can paradigmatic alternation patterns involving phonologically or functionally motivated allomorphy doggedly persist long after their motivation is deceased, but those patterns may bring under their sway historically quite unrelated varieties of allomorphy. Such patterns, most apparent in the verb, characteristically involve a ragbag of paradigm cells synchronically lacking any common set of distinguishing, morphosyntactic or phonological, features. They may also display ‘coherence’, in that exceptions to the patterns tend to be removed or resisted, and changes affecting any of the specified cells equally affect all the others.”

  4. 4.

    Cf. Maiden (2016a: 54) where he explicitly advocates such a possibility.

  5. 5.

    As one of the anonymous reviewers correctly points out, there is good evidence, in Romance languages, to treat esse as a different verb when it serves as an auxiliary, on the one hand, and as a copula and a passive auxiliary, on the other hand. In fact, Abeillé and Godard (2001: 6–7) demonstrate that the passive auxiliary and the copula exhibit the same syntactical properties, whereas esse as an auxiliary in compound tenses behaves in a different way (pp. 2–6). Therefore, having a full paradigm of esse used in copular contexts does not necessarily entail a non-suppletive nature of esse as an auxiliary. Indeed, some Romance languages show a different morphology for both forms of esse (as in Romanian, see Abeillé and Godard 2001: 2). I take this argument to be highly relevant and I therefore stress the decisive importance of the second criterion I mention in favor of an auxiliary selection analysis (rather than in favor of the suppletive one), namely the fact that, in some varieties, one mixed distribution is limited to one verb class (e.g. unaccusatives), while the other verb classes (e.g., transitives) exhibit a different kind of mixed distribution. This would clearly indicate that speakers must choose one auxiliary over the other depending on the verb class. This then would show that they have the full paradigms of both auxiliaries and they select the one or the other according to a given distribution schema.

  6. 6.

    That this is a stronger argument is also recognized by Corbett (2013: 185), though he still insists on having additional evidence about the individual behavior of both auxiliaries: “Such a pattern makes the selection analysis much more plausible (…), though it should be added that we would need to be reassured about the behavior of the two verbs independently.”

  7. 7.

    As is well known, the Unaccusative Hypothesis has a long history dating back to Perlmutter’s seminal 1978 paper which has given rise to intensive research in the domain; Bentley 2006 provides a thorough investigation of split intransitivity on the basis of Italian data.

  8. 8.

    I follow here Bonami (2015: 97) who cites the example of French verbs disparaître (h)/apparaître (e). Sorace (2000: 866–867) includes these verbs among change of state verbs with variable behavior. The two verbs, having the same semantic specification within this classification, display thus unexpected—arbitrary—auxiliary selection. However, as Franck Floricic points out (p.c.), disparaître can be used in the imperative (disparais tout de suite!), whereas apparaître is less acceptable (?? apparais tout de suite!). This difference reflects probably a different degree of agentivity. Auxiliary selection thus turns out to be more predictable, with avoir being the default for the more agentive verb disparaître. See also similar conclusions reached, for the verb apparaître, by Giancarli (2011: 155–156).

  9. 9.

    “In the present approach, auxiliary selection is literally a matter of inflection class: just as different classes of lexemes may trigger the use of distinct rules of synthetic exponence for the expression of the same feature, they may likewise trigger the use of distinct rules of periphrastic exponence.”

  10. 10.

    There is, of course, some fundamental descriptive literature preceding the recent theoretical developments, such as Giammarco (1973) and Tuttle (1986).

  11. 11.

    Actually, the situation is a bit more complex as the auxiliary alternation also follows different patterns with free variation in the 1st pers. sg. (Ruvo di Puglia) or in the 1st pers. pl. (Bitetto), see Manzini and Savoia 2005, II: 724–725; and Ledgeway, in press: Sect. 3.2.1, n. 15 for discussion.

  12. 12.

    Within the generative framework, the features associated with different persons obviously play a role in the treatment of this pattern (see, e.g., D’Alessandro and Roberts 2010; Torcolacci 2015; Ledgeway, in press).

  13. 13.

    See also Corbett (2013: 173) on a similar split in Slovak verbs, where in the past tense the 1/2 pers. maintain the auxiliary byt’ while the 3rd persons lack it. As Corbett notes, the pattern, shared with Czech and Macedonian, is unique in that it is not used elsewhere in the morphological system. I shall return to the uniqueness of some splits later on.

  14. 14.

    For the dialect of Bisceglie (southeastern Italy, prov. of Bari), the first pattern reported in the literature (cf. De Gregorio 1939: 50, quoted by Loporcaro 2007a: 195) is also heh–hhh. Manzini and Savoia 2005, II: 721 report instead eeh–hhh which is the pattern subsequently cited by Loporcaro (2014: 54). I thank one of the anonymous reviewers for pointing out that Loporcaro (2007b: 333–334) discusses this difference highlighting a probable diachronic change: “For the Apulian dialect of Bisceglie a paradigm is reported in which ‘be’ occurs in the 1sg and 2sg while ‘have’ occurs elsewhere […] [II 721]. The description of Biscegliese by De Gregorio (1939: 50) presents a different picture, with ‘be’ only in the 2sg for all verb classes and ‘have’ elsewhere, including the 1sg: Of course, it would have been interesting to know whether (the authors think that) there has been a change in Biscegliese over the last half a century or so.”

  15. 15.

    In fact, the clear instance of such a split with only one cell occupied by the narrower rule of auxiliary selection is further complicated by free variation of e/h where one single cell can be occupied by both auxiliaries with free choice. The issue of free variation will be introduced and discussed below in Sect. 4.4.

  16. 16.

    I will adopt this notation of free variation eh following Ledgeway, in press: Sect. 3.2.1, although it is commonly signaled, in the literature, as e/h (Loporcaro 2007a) or e/a (Manzini and Savoia 2005).

  17. 17.

    Cf., e.g., Ledgeway, in press: 3.2.1. on the progressive eradication of the complex splits from the pluperfect and counterfactual “leaving the split intact only in the present perfect”. See also Manzini and Savoia (2005, II: 681, 751–756) for an overview of the varieties with the generalization of either e or h in the pluperfect and in the counterfactual.

  18. 18.

    “In termini teorici, l’apparente opzionalità nella scelta dell’ausiliare viene ascritta alla compresenza di due grammatiche diverse, (…).” [Theoretically, the apparent optionality in the auxiliary choice is due to the co-presence of two different grammars.]

  19. 19.

    That this view of optionality is highly problematic, if not outright untenable, is pointed out by Loporcaro 2007b: 333: “If this is then multiplied by all the optional features encountered in all structural domains of a given language, it turns out that every monolingual speaker of any single dialect or language should have billions of distinct i-languages in his or her head. This combinatorial explosion provides a strong argument for an alternative view which accommodates optionality within one and the same grammar.”

  20. 20.

    The same point was first made also by Loporcaro (2001: 470; 2007a: 186).

  21. 21.

    It is clear, however, that this solution cannot be proposed for partial free variation, in which only a given subset of cells (within a given verb class) is involved in the free choice eh.

  22. 22.

    I thank Anna Thornton for pointing out this possibility and for valuable discussion of the issue. The same point is also made by Stump (2016: 61, n. 1).

  23. 23.

    The phenomenon of overabundance is usually taken to be motivated by various degrees of speaker uncertainty (on a par with cases of paradigm gaps, cf., e.g., Cappellaro 2013); there is also an assumption that absolute overabundance does not exist (Thornton 2011: 362). In such a case, in fact, languages tend to eliminate overabundance with some of the paradigmatic or syntagmatic synonomy avoidance devices (much in the vein of Carstairs-McCarthy 2010). Interestingly, both assumptions (uncertainty and no absolute overabundance) seem to be undermined by free auxiliary variation of this kind—so long as one takes free variation to be a case of overabundance… I must leave this issue to future elaboration.

  24. 24.

    I am well aware that such a statement presupposes a relative paradigmatic stability of the patterns. However, as Loporcaro (2014: 56, n. 8) says, these triple systems, though sometimes stable, “often represent a delicate transitional stage, within a speech community in which they coexist with binary options.”

  25. 25.

    “There may be various reasons why the 1sg and the 3pl frequently show formal convergence in auxiliary selection across dialects. One possible factor is the frequent formal homophony of the 1sg and 3pl of the present of BE (copula and auxiliary), which in many dialects, as in colloquial Italian, converge in the form so (< SU(M)/SU(N(T))). Consequently, given the occurrence of so as a 1sg auxiliary form in a classic person system, it is understandable how that same form, with independent 3pl reference as a copula or passive auxiliary, might be extended as a perfective auxiliary to the 3pl alongside the expected 3pl form of HAVE. Once 3pl so can freely alternate with its corresponding form of HAVE in the 3pl, then this same variation can be extended to the 1sg so and its corresponding form of HAVE. Once established in the 1sg and 3pl, it is understandable how further analogical extensions may then arise, e.g. extension of BE to 3sg by analogy with the 3pl or extension of HAVE to 2sg by analogy with 1sg and then, in turn, to the 1/2pl.”

  26. 26.

    Martin Maiden observes (p.c.) that the pattern where the 1st and 2nd pers. pl. behave systematically in a different way with respect to the other person-number combinations, is far from rare, even outside the N-pattern. A clear example is the imprf. ind. of essere in standard Italian ero, eri, era, eravamo, eravate, erano.

  27. 27.

    I cite the examples given in Manzini and Savoia 2005, though different forms in different syntactic contexts would also be needed to assess the case thoroughly. I also thank one of the anonymous reviewers who points out that there is a geographical error in Manzini and Savoia 2005, I: LVII who place the variety of Olivone in Canton Grigioni, whereas it belongs to Canton Ticino (the error is also pointed out by Loporcaro 2007b: 337). Moreover, I thank the anonymous reviewer for pointing out my own classification mistake in that I had considered Olivone to be a Romansch dialect while ticinese is an Alpine Lombard variety (cf. Loporcaro 2009: 99).

  28. 28.

    There is systematic suppletion between ’ɲir (< venire) and ’nar ’via (standard Italian andare via < ambulare via), typical also of other varieties, such as various Rhaeto-Romance dialects (cf. Haiman and Benincà 2002: 235; Juge 2013: 186–187).

  29. 29.

    The situation with unergatives is identical in that the presence of a clitic element, such as the above mentioned g= (standard Italian ci=), triggers the choice of h, otherwise it is e, according to the pattern in (17) and (18b).

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Acknowledgements

This paper has benefited enormously from valuable discussions with Martin Maiden, Adam Ledgeway, Greville Corbett, Olivier Bonami, Delia Bentley and Franck Floricic. I thank them all for their comments and constructive criticism. Previous versions of this paper were aired at two conferences: Décembrettes 9, Toulouse, December 2015, and 17 th International Morphology Meeting, Vienna, February 2016. I wish to thank the audience for helpful comments. In particular, I am indebted to Michele Loporcaro, Ingo Plag, Anna M. Thornton and Francesco Gardani for important feedback. I also thank Louise Esher and Martin Maiden for important linguistic and stylistic improvements of the present text. Finally, I express my gratitude to the editors of Morphology and to two anonymous reviewers for a fair number of critical comments on a previous version of the paper. Of course, any remaining errors and infelicities are my own responsibility. The support of the research project Mixed paradigms in Italo-Romance, funded by Czech Science Foundation (GAČR), n. 16-00236S, is gratefully acknowledged.

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Štichauer, P. Lexical splits within periphrasis: mixed perfective auxiliation systems in Italo-Romance. Morphology 28, 1–23 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11525-017-9313-z

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Keywords

  • Italo-Romance
  • Mixed paradigms
  • Periphrasis
  • Auxiliary Selection
  • Person-based systems
  • Lexical Splits
  • Morphomes
  • Morphologization