Variation and optionality in clitic climbing in Argentinean Spanish


  • Ioanna Sitaridou Queens' College, University of Cambridge
  • Helen Whimpanny University of Cambridge
  • Laura Ayres University of Cambridge


Since Cinque’s (2006:31-32) four-way typology of languages in terms of clitic climbing (CC, herein), those in which CC displays optionality, such as Argentinean Spanish (ArgSp, herein), remain poorly understood. This paper aims to address this need. Here, we show that: (i) empirically, CC has remained a prevalent option in spoken ArgSp since its incipient stage (Davies 1995), yet at the same time we reveal significant diatopic variation in terms of optionality; (ii) theoretically, we capture this optionality partly in terms of ‘parametric hierarchies’ (Biberauer & Roberts 2012) with no considerable impact otherwise on any macro/meso-parameter in this variety. However, in order to fully explain our data, we postulate that the macro-parameter setting makes a Pool of Variants (in the spirit of Adger (2013) and Adger & Smith (2007)) available, in which there are options for CC spell out: proclisis on the matrix or enclisis on the embedded verb(s). Crucially these options do not yield interpretive effects and, therefore, the drive behind the clitic position is lexical. The probability with which one of the clitic spell out positions is selected is claimed to depend at least in part on frequency, behind which we expect a variety of sociolinguistic factors.


clitic climbing, Argentinean Spanish, optionality, isogloss, Parametric Theory, pool of variants


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Author Biography

Ioanna Sitaridou, Queens' College, University of Cambridge

University Senior Lecturer in Romance Philology, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Cambridge.

Fellow and Director of Studies in Linguistics and Modern and Medieval Languages, Queens' College, University of Cambridge.




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