Lexical Parametrization and Early Subjects in L1 Italian

Paolo Lorusso


Italian is a pro drop language, since it allows subject drop and subject inversion. The pro-drop parameter is fixed early on (Orfitelli,2008), but both grammatical and informational factors might regulate the distribution of overt clausal subjects. On the grammatical side, the verb class influences the distribution of overt subjects: overt subjects in Italian are more likely to be found with unaccusative verbs (Lorusso, Caprin & Guasti 2005). On the informational side, 1st and 2nd person pronouns are more likely to e dropped than 3rd person NPs because the latter are more informative (Serratrice, 2005): 1st and 2nd ab ne recovered by the discourse, while 3rd persons are totally event anchored and have to be identified referentially within the linguistic stimuli. The parametric differences encoded in the lexical items, for example the unaccusative vs unergative distinction for verbs or the person ‘informative’ morphology, influence the subject drop in Italian: we propose a Lexical Parametrization account (Manzini & Wexler 1987) for subject drop in Italian, since the characteristic of lexical items influence the likelihood of appearance of an overt syntactic structure. Furthermore the distribution of indefinite postverbal subjects found just with unaccusatives in early stages of acquisition of Italian (Lorusso, 2014) confirms that the lexical characteristics of both the subject NPs and the verbs (in a subset relation with other NPs and verbs respectively) determine the parametric overt variation across the different stage of the acquisition of Italian, as Lexical Parametrization predicts.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijl.v9i6.12113

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