Distinguishing between accounts of the A/A'-distinction: the view from Argentinian Spanish Clitic Doubling


  • Suzana Fong


The A/A'-distinction underpins case, agreement, and binding properties of moving DPs. It also determines possible movement paths (cf. the Ban on Improper Movement). Van Urk (2015) and Safir (2019) take this distinction not to be a primitive of the grammar; rather, these authors seek to derive the A/A’-distinction from independent principles of the grammar. In both approaches, syntactic positions are not inherently A or A’. Rather, independent and more general properties of the grammar determine, as a byproduct, the nature of the movement that passes through these positions. While these approaches differ in which grammatical components they derive the A/A’-distinction from, both are able to explain the properties that it is based on (e.g. weak crossover, reconstruction, etc). Another similarity is that both approaches allow for a flexible definition of syntactic positions. I will argue that, despite these similarities, we can empirically adjudicate between these two theories. Specifically, Di Tullio et al.’s (2019) analysis of clitic doubling in Argentinian Spanish will be shown to be compatible only with Van Urk (2015).


clitic doubling, Argentinian Spanish, A/A’-distinction, Insulation, featural definition of syntactic positions


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