The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 12/4 - Ermenegildo Bidese

Speaker: Ermenegildo Bidese
Title: A binary system of complementizers in Cimbrian relative clauses
Date/Time: Tuesday, Dec 4, 1-2p
Location: 32-D461

The system of Cimbrian relative clauses manifests itself in a complex scenario: two different complementizers occur in this context: i) the ‘autochthonous’ (Germanic) bo, cognate of Southern German wo, and ii) the ‘allochthonous’ ke, borrowed from Italian (che), which is gradually spreading. In my talk I provide empirical evidence for a crucial specialization of both complementizers: the former shows up only in restrictive relative clauses, the latter in both restrictive and non-restrictive relatives, giving rise to a binary system. In my analysis I aim to explain the binary system of Cimbrian relative complementizers directly addressing the general discussion about relative clauses, showing once more the relevance of both linguistic contact and microvariation for the theory of grammar.