Topic-strategies and the internal structure of nominal arguments in Greek and Italian

Theodora Alexopoulou, Raffaella Folli

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5 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, we argue that a set of unexpected contrasts in the interpretation of clitic-left-dislocated indefinites in Greek and Italian derive from structural variation in the nominal syntax of the two languages. Greek resists nonreferential indefinites in clitic left-dislocation, resorting to the topicalization of an often bare noun for nonreferential topics. By contrast, clitic left-dislocation is employed in Italian for topics regardless of their definite/indefinite interpretation. We argue that this contrast is directly linked to the wide availability of bare nouns in Greek, which stems from a structural difference in the nominal syntax of the two languages. In particular, we hypothesize that Greek nominal arguments lack a D layer. Rather, they are Number Phrases. We situate this analysis in the context of Chierchia’s (1998) typology of nominals. We argue that, on a par with Italian nouns, Greek nouns are [−arg, +pred]. However, they do not employ a syntactic head (D) for type-shifting to e . Rather, they resort to covert type-shifting, a hypothesis that is necessary to account for the distribution and interpretations of bare nouns in Greek, vis-à-vis other [−arg, +pred] languages like Italian and French.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-486
Number of pages48
JournalLinguistic Inquiry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Jun 2019

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© 2019 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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