N Class and its Interpretation: The Neuter in Central Italian Varieties and its Implications


  • Ludovico Franco
  • M. Rita Manzini
  • Leonardo M. Savoia


In this work we will characterize Romance N class morphology as endowed with a semantic content, providing evidence about the active involvement of N class at the syntaxsemantic interface. We will argue that the so-called neuter of Central Italian dialects involves coding of the mass/count distinction by N class morphology. The mass vs. count contrast can be interpreted as the reflex of a more primitive property, which opposes non-individual content to instances of individual denotation, since the -o ‘neuter’ inflection of Central Italian varieties is compatible not only with mass nouns but also with eventive contents and with the invariable inflections found with perfect participles of unergative/transitive verbs. We will show that Mass vs. count semantic content associated to and encoded through N class is available in other Indo-European languages and in genetically unrelated languages and we will support the idea that N class can function as a classifier.


nominal class, gender, neuter, Italian dialects, Romance, Syntax




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