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Clitics as Calcified Processing Strategies

Stergios Chatzikyriakidis and Miriam Bouzouita


In this paper we examine clitic placement in Medieval Spanish (MedSp) and Renaissance Spanish (RenSp) as well as the Person Case Constraint (PCC) in Modern Spanish (ModSp), arguing that a natural explanation for these phenomena can be given once we assume clitics to be the encoding of calcified processing strategies of an earlier freer word order system (Bouzouita 2008a, 2008b, 2008c; Kempson et al. 2008; Kempson & Cann 2007; Kempson & Chatzikyriakidis 2009; Chatzikyriakidis forthcoming). We show that the availability of different parsing strategies being possible for one and the same string, led to cases where reanalysis in terms of the parser gave rise to syntactic change. Assuming that each clitic in effect matches one of the four different parsing strategies of the earlier Latin scrambling system, the PCC facts are straightforwardly accounted for. Assuming that syncretized and dative clitics involve the projection of an unfixed node with no form of update, any combination of 1st/2nd clitics or a 3rd dative plus a 1st/2nd clitic is predicted to be illicit by a very general constraint on tree-growth, the fact that no more than one unfixed node with the same underspecified address can be present in the tree structure, since by definition these two will collapse into one by means of tree-node identity.

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