Article published in:Studies on German-Language Islands
Edited by Michael T. Putnam
[Studies in Language Companion Series 123] 2011
► pp. 347–368
Revisiting the Wackernagelposition
The evolution of the Cimbrian pronominal system
The present contribution reconstructs the development of the personal object pronouns of Cimbrian, a German dialect spoken in Northern Italy which evolved many centuries in close contact with northern Italy's Romance dialects. With reference to their functional status and their clausal position we discover that Cimbrian's object pronouns started from a German model and have over time become closer to a Romance one. In the older Cimbrian texts, these elements are clearly recognizable as full phrases (XP), occupying the traditional Wackernagelposition; in modern writings they behave as heads (X0) and appear only in an 'adverbal' position, i.e. enclitic to the finite verb, similarly to the syntax of Romance object pronouns. The fact that they cannot be realized as proclitic to the finite verb - like the Romance ones - shows however that the original Germanic syntax limits the influence of that Romance. Attempting to explain this phenomenon, this current study suggests revisiting the structure of the Wackernagelposition.
Published online: 31 January 2011