verb second and clitic second in old french
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Verb-second and clitic-second in Old French. Jennifer Culbertson [email protected] Geraldine Legendre Johns Hopkins University. Traditional approaches to V2 in OF. V2  verb in 2 nd position following arbitrary element

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verb second and clitic second in old french

Verb-second and clitic-second in Old French

Jennifer Culbertson

[email protected]

Geraldine Legendre

Johns Hopkins University

traditional approaches to v2 in of
Traditional approaches to V2 in OF
  • V2  verb in 2ndposition following arbitrary element
  • Strong V2 pattern in 12th c OF (85-90% main declaratives): (1) Vers dulce Francechevalchetl'emperere.  “Toward sweet France rodethe emperor.”

Previous Analyses:

  • Germanic-based: V must move to C (e.g. Roberts 1993)
  • I to C in non-SVO clauses (e.g. Vance 1998)

Alternative Approach:

  • V2 is a PF alignment effect (e.g. Legendre 2000)
motivations for new approach
Motivations for new approach
  • Symmetric V2 languages (Icelandic, Yiddish, OF)
  • Status of SpecIP as mixed A, A’ position (Diesing 1990, Lemieux & Dupuis 1995)
  • Motivation for filling specCP
  • Number of elements appearing before the verb
  • object and locative clitics in OF are second-position elements which interact with verb positioning
alternative analysis of of v2
Alternative analysis of OF V2
  • V2  conflict of alignment constraints (Legendre 2000, Anderson 2005)
  • Generalized Morphological Alignment (McCarthy & Prince 1993)
  • Alignment of features at PF V2 is constraint on linear order

(2) Seignurs baruns, a Carlemagnesirez; 

“Barons,[break],to Charlemagne(you)will go.”

  • Verbs compete with clitics for second position
  • Economy is built into competition
alternative analysis of of v21
Alternative analysis of OF V2


  • V2 parallels clitic-second (Anderson 2005, Legendre 2001)
  • V2 is sensitive to number of constituents preceding verb
  • ‘Dummy’ or ‘arbitrary’ elements in first position (3) Sirecevraila chrestïene lei. “(I) will receivethe christian law.” Also: dunc “thus”, e “and”, u “or”, or “now”, puis “then”
  • By default symmetric V2 (COMP+V) expected
of second position clitics
OF Second-position Clitics
  • OF object and locative clitics:
  • Appear/cluster in 2nd position, always in the same order:
  • (4) a. Demi Espaignevusduratil.
  • half spainyougivehe
  • “Half Spain he will give you.”
  • b. Jot’enmuvrai
  • Iyou+therefollow
  • “I will followyou there”
  • c.Dunezm’en
  • giveme+here
  • “Give me here!”
of second position clitics1
OF Second-position Clitics

[5% of all main clauses in Chanson de Roland]

  • Obey Tobler-Mussafia law regardless of context

(5) a. Imperative:Dunezlil'arc

“Givehimthe sword!”

b.Declarative: Vintises nies.

“Cametherehis nephew”

c. Question: Faiteslevos de gred?

“Will (you) doitnow?”

d. Quote: Distli paiens…

“Saidthe pagans…”




  • Verb-Clitic order switches
  • V1 occurs with special illocutionary force
of second position clitics2
OF Second-position Clitics
  • Encliticize with preceding elements e.g. sil = si + li, jel = je + li, nes = ne + les
  • Hirschbühler & Labelle (2000) claim that OF clitics are positioned independently of the verb
  • Advocate a set of constraints preventing clitics in 1st position, but pushing them to leftedge
  • But no clitic-second V2 interaction
v2 and c2 alignment constraints
V2 and C2 Alignment Constraints
  • Constraints for morphological/feature alignment:

NONINITIAL(X): violated by candidates with [X] at the left edge of the intonational phrase (typically clause)

EDGEMOST(X): gradiently violated by candidates with [X] not aligned with left edge of the intonational phrase

  • X = finiteness features of verbs (F) and clitics (Cl)
  • Interaction produces 2nd position when NI(X) >> E(X)
  • Verbs and clitics will compete for second-position
  • Resolution of conflict between second position elements is not unique to OF (eg. for Macedonian, Legendre 1997)
using ot alignment constraints
Using OT alignment constraints
  • I-to-C movement not necessary
  • Additional constraints:

INTEGRITY(XP): violated by candidates with elements intervening within an XP unit (Anderson 2005)

EPP: violated by candidates with empty specIP (satisfied by pro)

  • based on SUBJ (Grimshaw 1997), but can be satisfied by non-subjects
  • evidence: all types of constituents found before V in embedded clauses, e.g. …(6)queli Franceisasmastes a ferir; “…thatthe Frank (you) will fight”

*t: violated by movement traces (called STAY in Grimshaw 1997, see also Legendre 2001)

analysis of old french v2
Analysis of Old French V2
  • OF ranks EPP, INTEGRITY >> NI(X) >> E(X) >>*t
  • OF ranks NI(Cl) >> E(Cl) >> NI(F) >> E(F)
  • SVX clauses

(7) Li empererestentses mains vers Deu. “The emperorheldhis hands toward God”

Key points:  SVX clauses are IPs, *t eliminates CP

 NI(F) >> E(F)

analysis of old french v21
Analysis of Old French V2
  • XV(S) clauses

(8) Vers dulce Francechevalchetl'emperere. 

“Toward sweet Francerodethe emperor.”

Key points:  XVS clauses are IPs

*t eliminates CP candidate

  • What is the preverbal element?
analysis of old french v22
Analysis of Old French V2
  • X-Cl-V(S) clauses

(9) Demi Espaignevusduratil. 

“Half of Spainhewill giveyou.”

Key points:  E(Cl) >> E(F)

 clitics are coindexed with pro (Borer 1986)

Key points:  INT(XP) is highly ranked

analysis of old french v23
Analysis of Old French V2
  • V2 is violated in V1 clauses (e.g imperatives)
  • EDGEMOST(IMP): imperatives must be at left edge (Legendre 2000)
  • Similar constraints could be used for other V1 contexts
  • V-Cl-X clauses *note reverse order of V-clitic

(10) Dunezlil'arc“Givehimthe sword”

Key points:  E(IMP) is highly ranked

v2 in old french embedded clauses
V2 in Old French Embedded Clauses
  • Not quite as common, why? ranking EPP >> E(F)

(11)a …querecevrezla lei de chrestiens

“…that (you) receivethe law of the christians”


“…thatweloseour honor”

  • Key Points:
  • EPP high ranked

pro satisfies

EPP & E(F)

  • overt subj must


v2 in old french embedded clauses1
V2 in Old French Embedded Clauses
  • Not just subjects intervene between complementizer + V

(12) c…queli Franceisasmastesa ferir;

“…thatthe Frank (you) will fight”

d…queen Sarragucedescendentsuz un if.

“…thatin Sarraguce (they) descend under a cliff”

e…quelitramistli reis

“…thatitsendsthe king”

Key points:  if subj. pro can satisfy EPP, so can obj pro

  • OF V2 is captured successfully by the resolution of a conflict between NONINITIAL and EDGEMOST constraints
  • Second-position clitics in OF can be captured by this same constraint interaction
  • Competition between verbs and clitics leads to clitics in second position, verbs in third
  • Pattern of enclisis to verbs in V1 contexts automatically follows
  • Symmetric character of OF V2 is derived
  • Adds to the growing body of research suggesting that alignment may be theoretically preferable to traditional feature driven movement analyses of V2

Special Thanks to Paul Smolensky


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