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French subject clitics are not agreement markers

By C. De Cat


In spite of the substantial literature dedicated to it, the status of French subject clitics is still an unresolved issue within morpho-syntactic theory. Two main analyses have been proposed and defended over the past three decades: one advocating that French subject clitics are syntactic arguments bearing a theta-role and the other viewing such clitics as inflectional morphemes on the verb. This paper demonstrates that the empirical basis motivating the morphological analysis of French subject clitics is much narrower than has been assumed in the literature and shows that the implementation of such an analysis faces numerous theoretical and empirical difficulties. It concludes that the limited similarities between the behaviour of French subject clitics and that of morphemes should be treated as accidental rather than as decisive factors in favour of a morphological analysis. Under a derivational approach to grammar, the syntactic analysis appears to be the only viable one

Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2005
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