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Quirky Subjects and Person Restrictions in Romance: Rumanian and
Spanish" Maria Luisa Rioero and Dana Geber
University of Cuaioa
Abstract The aim of this paper is to argue that Rumanian shares with Spanish quirky constructions with Icelandic-like person restrictions (as identified by Rivero 2003b). In these constructions, with a dative logical subject, the nominative logical object triggering verbal agreement must be third person and cannot be first or second person. Romance quirky constructions with person restrictions are characterized by the combination of a dative clitic with a reflexive clitic. The second aim of this paper is to demonstrate that the Person Case Constraint formulated by Bonet (1994) can capture the difference between quirky constructions with person restrictions and quirky constructions without person restrictions. The third goal of this paper is to show that the Person Case Constraint can also capture the contrast between the Romance quirky constructions and Bulgarian constructions which have similar syntax but no person restrictions. The contrast between Spanish and Rumanian, on the one hand, and Bulgarian, on the other hand, suggests that person restrictions in Romance depend on the morphological feature content of the reflexive clitic. namely [person).
Quirky subject constructions in Icelandic display person restrictions,
which have attracted much attention, and contributed in important
ways to the development of recent linguistic theory (Anagnostopoulou
2003, Boeckx 2000, Chomsky 1999, Sirgur_sson 2002a, 2002b and
references therein, among others). The received view in the literature
is that such restrictions are particular to Icelandic. Constraints of this
type have not been identified in other languages. Thus, Spanish and
Rumanian are considered languages with quirky subject constructions
free of such restrictions1.
Research for this paper was partially supported by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Research Grants 410-2000-0120 and 410-2003- 016i. Earlier versions were read at the13 th Colloquium on Generative Grammar, Ciudad Real, Spain in April 2003, and at the Canadian Linguistic Association Annual Meeting, Halifax, Nova Scotia in June 2003. We thank members of both audiences for useful comments and questions, and Olga Arnaudova for information on Bulgarian and much help with the data reported in 3. We also thank Rodica Diaconescu for her comments and help with the Romanian data. We thank an anonymous reviewer for the comments for this paper.
I In this paper, we adopt the familiar "quirky subject" label as a descriptive term. See (Masullo 1992, 1993) for differences between Spanish and Icelandic"quirky subjects", (Masullo 1992, Fernandez Soriano 1999, and Cuervo 1999) for diagnostics of "quirky subjects" in Spanish, and (Dumitrescu and Masullo 1996) for "quirky subjects" in
Cahiers linguistiques d'Ottawa, dcembre/December 2003, Vol. 31: 53-66 ISSN 0315-3167. 2003, Department of Linguistics, University of Ottawa
Rivero and Geber
This paper has three general aims. The first aim is to argue tha t
Rumanian shares with Spanish quirky constructions with Icelandic
like person restrictions of the type first identified by Rivero (2003b) in
Spanish. Thus, the Spanish situation finds a counterpart in another
Romance language. The second goal of this paper is to show that
Bonet's Person Case Constraint (1994) is a preliminary tool that can
capture the difference between quirky constructions with person
restrictions and quirky constructions without person restrictions not
only in Spanish but also in Rumanian. The third aim is to show that
the pee (Person Case Constraint - Bonet 1994) can also capture a contrast between the Romance constructions discussed in this paper
and parallel quirky constructions in Bulgarian which have similar
syntax but no person restrictions.
The paper is organized as follows. In section 2, we introduce two
different types of quirky constructions in Spanish and Rumanian:
those without person restrictions, which are familiar in the literature,
and those with person restrictions. In section 3, we show that the pee can capture the formal difference between the class of Spanish and
Rumanian quirky constructions wi th person restrictions and the
familiar class without person restrictions. In section 4, we contrast
Spanish and Rumanian quirky constructions with Bulgarian quirky
constructions that share similar syntactic characteristics but do not
show person restrictions, and argue that the PCC can capture the
difference between SIavic and Romance, which further supports the
suggestion in section 3 that PCC captures the difference between quirky
constructions with and without person restrictions.
1. Two types of quirky subjects in Spanish and Rumanian We first illustrate person restrictions in Icelandic. The sentences in (la
c) from (Sirgur_sson 2002a: pp.719-720) show that in the presence of a
dative logical subject, a nominative logical object triggering verbal
Rumanian. See also (Rivero and Sheppard 2003) and (Rivero 2oo3a) for different types of 11 quirky subjects" in Slavic, including a class without counterparts in Spanish and Rumanian.
Quirky Subjects and Person Restrictions in Romance
agreement must be 3 person singular or plural, and cannot be 2 or
(1) a. eg veit ao honum lika peir. I know that he.DAT like.3PL they.NOM
'I know that he likes them.'
b. *eg veit ao honum likio pia.
I know that he.DAT like.2PL you.NOM.PL
'*1 know that he likes you.'
c. *eg veit aa honum likum via. I know that he.OAT like.1PL we.NOM
'*1 know that he likes us.'
The received view in the literature is that the Icelandic
restriction is language-particular. The general idea in all existing
analyses is that the dative somehow interferes with finite inflection by
entering into an agreement or a checking relation with its person
(Anagnastopoulou 2003, Boeckx 2000, Sigur_sson 2002a, 2002b for
different implementations of this basic idea).
Many well-known languages lack the above person restriction.
At first sight, Spanish and Rumanian seem to be among those
languages because sentences equivalent to (1) do not display person
restrictions, as Spanish (2a-c) and Rumanian (3a-c) illustrate.
Like their Icelandic counterparts, the Romance sentences in (2a
c) and (3a-c) contain dative logical subjects (a Ana and lui Ion
respectively), which must be doubled by a dative clitic glossed Dat.Cl
from now on (k in (2) and ii in (3)). They also contain nominative logical objects that trigger verbal agreement (ellos in (2a) and cl in (3a)). However, it is known that such nominative logical objects can be not
only 3 rd person, but also 21ld or 15t person in the presence of a da tive
logical subject, as (2b-c) and (3b-c) illustrate.
(2) a. Yo se que a Ana le gustan ellos. Spa know that Ann.Dat Oat.CI like.3PL they.NOM
'I know that Ann likes them.'
Rivero and Geber
b. Yo se que a Anale gustais vosotros.
know that Ann.Dat DaLCl like.2Pyou.NOM.PL
'1 know that Ann likes you.'
c. Yo se que a Ana le gustamos nosotros.
know that Ann.Dat Dat.CI like.1PL we.NOM
'1 know that Ann likes us.'
(3) a. Lui Ion ii plac ei. RU111
Iohn.Dat Oat.Cllike.3PI they.Nom
'John likes them.'
b. Lui Ion li placem noi. John.Oat Oat.CI like.1Pl we.Nom
'John likes us.'
c. Lui Ion i i placeti voL
[ohn.Dat Dat.CI like.2Pl you.Nom.Pl
'John likes you.'
The datives in (2a-c) and (3a-c), then, do not seem to interfere
with finite verb agreement, or enter into an agreement relation with
inflection via its person. Many verbs behave like gustar/ a placea 'like'
in (2) and (3), so it would seem that person restrictions of the Icelandic
type do not exist in Spanish and Rumanian. However, Rivero (2003b)
notes some quirky constructions in Spanish that display person
restrictions like Icelandic, and here we go on to show that Rumanian is
very similar to Spanish.
In both languages, there are some previously unnoticed
constructions that resemble those in (2) and (3) above because they
have a dative logical subject obligatorily doubled by a clitic, and a
nominative logical object triggering agreement on the verb. However,
unlike the constructions in (2) and (3), these other constructions
display person restrictions, because their nominative logical object
must be 3rd person, and cannot be 2nd or 1st.
Let us introduce the Spanish and Rumanian quirky
constructions with person restrictions, which in our view fall into
two subtypes. First consider the examples in (4-5), which illustrate
the first subtype. The defining characteristic of the Spanish verb
ocurrir (se) 'imagine' in (4a-c) and the Rumanian verb a (se) cuueni
Quirky Subjects and Person Restrictions in Romance
'deserve' in (Sa-c) is to take as the only syntactic option a dative as
Jogical subject and a nominative as logical object. In both languages,
this nomina tive object triggers verbal agreement, and is restricted to
3rd person, as in (4a-Sa), so cannot be 1st person (2nd person is also
impossible, but is not illustrated).
(4) a. A Ana se le ocurri6 [unpersonaje / ella} 5pa Ann.Oat 3.