Article in:Linguistic Variation: Online-First Articles
The relative order of foci and polarity complementizers
A slavic perspective
According to Rizzi & Bocci’s (2017) suggested hierarchy of the left periphery, fronted foci (FOC) can never precede polarity complementizers (PolC); yet languages like Bulgarian and Macedonian appear to display precisely such an ordering configuration. On the basis of a cross-linguistic comparison of ten Slavic languages, I argue that in the Slavic subgroup the possibility of having a focus precede PolC is dependent on the morphological properties of the complementizer itself: in languages where the order FOC < PolC is acceptable, PolC is a complex morpheme derived through the incorporation of a lower functional head with a higher one. The order FOC < PolC is then derived by giving overt spell-out to the intermediate copy of PolC rather than to the topmost one. In turn, this option is linked to the possibility, recorded in all languages which allow for FOC < PolC, to also realize the morpheme expressing interrogative polarity as an enclitic particle attaching to fronted foci.
Keywords: left periphery, fronted foci, polarity questions, complementizers, slavic, word order
Published online: 10 June 2021
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