chapter  3
18 Pages

Verb Positions: Evidence from Italian

If we adopt the research strategy initiated by Pollock (1989), inspired in turn by the pioneering approaches of Emonds (1978) and Klima (1964), some of the phenomena concerning word order variation can be taken to be a function, at least in part, of a head movement process that moves the verb out of its base position within the VP into some inectional head position.1 Particularly revealing in this regard is the respective position of the inected verb and adverbs of various classes. Variations among languages as to the position that adverbs appear to ll within the clause can be interpreted as being not a primitive and rather mysterious difference in adverb syntax proper, but rather a function of a verb syntax working differently. Under the assumption that the position that different classes of adverbs ll in the clause structure remains invariant across (at least typologically close) languages, the observed variation can be made to follow from the different scope of application that the verb movement operation can have. Whence, for instance, the by now classical approach to the observed difference in the position occupied by the negation adverb in two languages like French and English that constitutes the starting point of Pollock’s analytical approach. As is well known, the basic paradigm in (1) can be accounted for by assuming that the French negation pas and the English negation not occupy the same position in the clause structure of the two languages, and that the different position they appear to ll with respect to the inected verb is epiphenomenal and due to the fact that the verb moves out of the VP into a high inectional head position in French but not in English:

(1) a. Jean n’aime pas Marie b. *John likes not Mary

I would like to present a number of case studies concerning the interaction of verb and adverb syntax within the perspective just outlined,

ultimately aiming at determining what the position lled by the inected verb is in a language like Italian. The cases that I will consider in detail deal with the study of the position lled by the inected verb and the following classes of adverbs: negative adverbs, positive adverbs, and sentence adverbs.