What do second-position cliticization, scrambling and multiple wh-fronting have in common?

Date of Completion

January 1999


Language, Linguistics




Serbo-Croatian (SC) is a language with very free word order; almost any permutation of words in a sentence is allowed. There are surprising exceptions to this: clitics and multiple wh-fronting. The order of clitics with respect to other elements in a sentence is very rigid. Clitics have to occupy the second position (2P) in a sentence, where 2P is roughly either after the first word or after the first phrase. Wh-phrases also have restrictions on the positions in which they can occur in a sentence. In most cases, no wh-element can remain in-situ. This thesis is a study of word order in SC, both of its freedom and restrictions on it, within the Minimalist Program. Various word orders in SC correlate with particular information structure and prosodic properties. Paying a close attention to them reveals two different types of word reordering: one to remove nonpresupposed elements from the position where a new information focus element needs to be, in order to receive the main sentential stress by the NSR, as formulated in Zubizarreta (1998) (defocalized phrase displacement), and the other one to move identificational (Kiss 1998) focus elements into positions in which they can be licensed (focus movement). I show that defocalized phrase displacement structures are not derived only by syntactic mechanisms, but that PF plays a role too, in the form of deciding which copy of an element is pronounced. There is no optional movement in syntax, appearances of optionality are derived by virtue of pronouncing the relevant copy of an element, as decided by the NSR. Focus movement, whose subcase, I show, is multiple wh-fronting, involves movement of focused elements into discourse oriented projections in overt syntax. These focus elements have to be licensed also prosodically, and PF considerations of stress assignment help explain why there is no appearance of optionality here. When it comes to the second position cliticization, evidence is presented that the 2P requirement must be a matter of PF, and not syntax. A PF filter put forth in Bošković (1997) ensures the pronunciation of just those copies that will result in the 2P placement. ^