V. 51 N. 1 (2013)

I percorsi del mutamento: categorie scalari e sincretismo degli ausiliari

Romano Lazzeroni
Dipartimento di Filologia, Letteratura e Linguistica Università di Pisa

Pubblicato 2013-07-31

Parole chiave

  • Auxiliaries,
  • syncretism,
  • verbs of movement.


The syncretism of two or more grammatical forms normally arises at the periphery of a given category and proceeds to the center, without necessarily reaching the prototypical nucleus. This is the case, for instance, of the syncretism between Latin locative and ablative: the locative is preserved only in certain categories of toponyms. In languages like Italian, which have two auxiliaries, esse and habere, the auxiliary selection in compound tenses is governed by the so-called auxiliary selection hierarchy (ASH): prototypical unaccusative verbs require esse, while prototypical unergative verbs require habere. Translational motion verbs (e.g., to go and to come), belong to the prototypical core of unaccusativity and, therefore, require esse. However, in languages in which the syncretism of the auxiliaries arises through the extension of habere against esse, translational motion verbs are among the first to take habere. The Logical Structure of these verbs, in Dowty’s terms, and the change of the hierarchical order of the features governing auxiliary selection provide an explanation for the contradiction.