Francesca Ramaglia

A comparative interface analysis of existential sentences in Romance

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This paper is devoted to an interface account of existential sentences in Romance languages. After an introduction to the parameters of variation of the relevant structures in this linguistic family, as well as to the typology of copular constructions and to informationally-structurally marked sentences, a structural account is proposed which can account for the formal properties of Romance existentials. Specifically, existentials are analyzed as informationally-structurally marked sentences of the predicative type, sharing crucial properties with clefts; it is therefore shown that in both structures the post-copular nominal constitutes a Focus and is followed by a right-hand Topic. A unique derivation is thus proposed for existentials and clefts, also showing the correlation between some related structures (i.e., locatives and inverted pseudoclefts on the one hand, inverted locatives and pseudoclefts on the other). Finally, in dealing with the Definiteness Effect, which is shown to constitute a universal semantically-based phenomenon, it is argued that a distinction is necessary across there-sentences between existential and presentational constructions, which present crucial different properties at the interfaces.


  • Copular Structures
  • Existentials
  • Locative Constructions
  • Presentational Sentences
  • (Pseudo)Clefts


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