Infinitive fronting as a transparency effect in Old and Middle French



In this article, we present a novel analysis of infinitive fronting in Old and Middle French (9th-16th century). We find that in sentences with modal verbs and clitic climbing, the infinitive may either follow the main verb or precede it. When the subject of the main verb is overt and the infinitive is fronted, the order is Subj-Vinf-Vfin. Moreover, we find that the object of the fronted infinitive either cliticises onto the main verb (i.e. clitic climbing) or moves as a full DP with the infinitive, in which case the order is Subj-Obj-Vinf-Vfin. We compare our data to Stylistic Fronting, and we show that infinitive fronting in Old and Middle French is a different mechanism. Our analysis takes infinitive fronting to be vP-movement to Spec,TP, an operation which patterns alongside other Transparency Effects. Therefore, infinitive fronting provides further evidence for monoclausal restructuring in earlier French.


infinitives, clitic placement, Old French, restructuring, Stylistic Fronting


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