ROM: The relative clause cycle: explaining Variation in relative clauses in Italian and Portuguese

Head of the project: Prof. Dr. Cecilia Poletto
Prof. Dr. Esther Rinke
Staff: Elisabeth Aßmann
Lukas Becker
Emanuela Sanfelici

Short description:

The project ROM deals with the synchronic and diachronic analysis of restrictive and appositive relative clauses in Italian and Portuguese. It is generally assumed that relative clauses are either introduced by pronouns or by complementizers. However, the results of a previous project have shown that this dichotomy cannot be maintained. Varieties of Italian and Portuguese exhibit different forms of relativizers with distinct feature configurations and syntactic properties. Given the fact that relative complementizers in Romance have developed out of pronominal wh-forms, this variability points towards the existence of a grammaticalization cycle whose stages still have to be defined. The project ROM aims at identifying these stages and will do so on the basis of historical data. We will first focus on the analysis of structural phenomena like clitic doubling, agreeing complementizers and demonstrative + complementizer constructions and their layering as successive steps of the relative cycle; then we will investigate the similarities and differences between Italian and Portuguese and between restrictive and appositive relative clauses with respect to the stages of the relative cycle.

Detailed project description as pdf-file (German)