To be or to have? That is the question

Auxiliary Selection in Italian

Authors

Abstract

For the first time, systematic research of auxiliary selection in Italian is proposed using corpus analysis and natural language processing (NLP). By combining these methods, we seek to find the most significant factors that influence the choice of auxiliary in intransitive verbs with double auxiliation. These verbs have often been studied in the literature (e.g., peripheral verbs [Sorace 2000]), but they have never been addressed in a comprehensive way (Giancarli 2015). The findings emphasize the most significant factors influencing the choice of ‘be’ or ‘have’ based on semantic, syntactic, and morphological aspects. On the basis of corpus analysis and statistical tools (CHAID and Random Forest) evidence, we propose the internal cause and the human trait as the possible factors useful in untangling the knot of auxiliary selection within Italian verbs with double auxiliation. This article also presents a reflection on semi-auxiliary verbs, a particular group of Italian verbs that operate as semi-auxiliary by being followed by an infinitive. For this group of verbs, we propose that auxiliary selection depends not only on the semantics of the verb or of the subject, but mainly on the auxiliary selection of the infinitive.

Keywords

auxiliary selection, Italian, NLP, morphosyntax, semantics

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Published

09-05-2024

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