Address inversion in southern Italian dialects



This article proposes a ‘topological’ reinterpretation of the extended nominal architecture in relation to southern Italo-Romance vocatives with and without allocuzione inversa (‘address inversion’, Renzi 1968), a phenomenon involving the ‘inverse’ lexical indexation of the speaker-addressee relationship (reg.It. Mangia, papà! ‘Eat up, little one!’, father to child). Topological Mapping Theory (Longobardi 2005; Martín & Hinzen 2014) posits a unified model of grammatical structure and nominal reference denotation in argumental constituents, where a hierarchy of referentiality (from predicativity to deixis) emerges through the expansion of the functional architecture. Contributing to a growing theoretical consensus favouring extra ‘vocative’ structure in the nominal left periphery, I argue that Italo-Romance vocatives with and without address inversion involve a part-whole expansion of structure, yielding a necessarily tripartite nominal architecture (VocP-DP-NP) in line with topological principles. The non-literal interpretation of N observed in the ‘lexical flip’ of address inversion vocatives is argued to be the surface manifestation of movement into VocP, a functional space whose internal articulation serves to construe the ostensive-deictic possibilities of an object-referring expression at the exophoric level.


address inversion, allocuzione inversa, grammar-discourse interface, vocatives, nominal syntax, grammatical reference, topological mapping theory, Italo-Romance


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