The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Ling Lunch 4/7 - Adina Dragomirescu & Alexandru Nicolae

Speaker: Adina Dragomirescu & Alexandru Nicolae (Romanian Academy – University of Bucharest)
Title: Inflected `non-finite’ forms: The Romance inflected infinitive vs. the Romanian Supine
Time: Thursday, April 7th, 12:30-1:50 pm
Place: 32-D461

In this talk we introduce the relevant data related to the inflected infinitive in the Romance languages and in languages from other families. We focus on the relation between inflected and non-inflected (regular) infinitives and on the origin of the inflected forms. The data presented make it difficult to give straightforward answers to questions like ‘what is an infinitive?’ or ‘how can we distinguish between an inflected infinitive and a subjunctive?’.

We then turn to the data regarding the Romanian supine and the competition between supine, infinitive and subjunctive forms in Modern Standard Romanian. We also pay attention to the usage of the supine in the northern varieties of Romanian, which, in contrast to the standard supine allows clitics, negation and even person and number agreement. This suggests that the functional structure of the standard supine is reduced when compared to the northern varieties.

Finally, we try to put all these data in the context of the ‘exfoliation’ hypothesis, presented by David Pesetsky in his class this semester. We show that the Romanian infinitive, like the inflected infinitive in other Romance languages, projects a full non-finite clausal domain, so that exfoliation is not relevant here. However, the standard supine (incompatible with subjects, clitics, and negation) obtains via exfoliation of the C domain, the higher projection being probably the MoodP, where de, the supine marker, is hosted. However, in the northern varieties, the supine is a CP, with de hosted by the C domain, and its functional domain contains at least NegP (where the negation is hosted), and a PersP (where clitics are hosted). Empirical arguments for distinguishing between ‘exfoliation’ and (Rizzi’s / Wurmbrand’s) ‘restructuring’ are also presented.

Open issues: Is exfoliation relevant from a diachronic point of view? Is exfoliation reversible? What is the relation between grammaticalization and exfoliation?