Clitic Placement with Infinitives in the Diachrony of French: from enclisis to proclisis
Marc Olivier
October 2023

This article presents an analysis of the evolution of clitic placement with infinitives in French. Quantitative data taken from a corpus covering French from the mid-12th to the mid-19th century show that enclisis is found until the first half of the 14th century. From a formal standpoint, I provide evidence in favour of the hypothesis that this word order connects to V-movement of the infinitive to the IP-domain. I argue that this operation is driven by the richness of tense inflection, specifically the expression of the /r/ morpheme which is completely lost during the 14th century. The empirical picture further contributes to the debate on the locus of cliticisation, for which I propose a refined distinction between phonological and syntactic cliticisation. The last part of the paper presents evidence for a pronominal tripartition in Middle French, which shows a failed change. The article concludes on how morphophonology is a window to the acquisition of syntactic operations.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/007544
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: To appear in Journal of Historical Syntax
keywords: clitics, infinitives, clitic placement, verb placement, language change, syntax, old french
previous versions: v3 [October 2023]
v2 [August 2023]
v1 [August 2023]
Downloaded:363 times


[ edit this article | back to article list ]