Universal 20 restriction reloaded

The view from Old Italo-Romance


  • Tommaso Balsemin Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
  • Francesco Pinzin Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3744-062X
  • Cecilia Poletto Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main / Università degli Studi di Padova


In this work we show that Old Italo-Romance varieties have two types of pragmatic related movement to the left periphery of both the clausal and nominal domains: one that focuses the moved constituent itself and another that marks the moved constituent as background, resulting in emphasis of the non-moved portion. While Focus fronting does not obey the U20 restriction originally proposed in Cinque (2005), (back)grounding does. This counters the idea that only meaningless movements (i.e., movements deriving the canonical word order of a language) need to obey the U20 restriction, since some meaningful movements do as well. After having examined the properties of both types of constructions, we derive the distinction on the basis of the type of feature that triggers the movement. While operators like Focus have their own feature, which is read by the labeling algorithm, all other cases of movement must use the label of the lexical head, which therefore must be contained in the moved subtree. Hence, (back)grounding must drag along the lexical head to be labeled, while Focus does not need to.


Focus fronting, Ground, Old Romance, Labeling, U20 restriction


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Author Biography

Francesco Pinzin, Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main

Institut für Romanische Sprachen und Literaturen

Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter

Research interests: Morphosyntax, Italian Dialects, Latin, Voice alternations, Verbal morphology, Nominal morphology




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