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  • Progetto di ricerca (SIR)

    Research project funded by MIUR within the “SIR Programme 2014”

    Project title: Comparing Nominal Predication at the Interfaces: a cross-linguistic study

    Project acronym: ComPrInt

    Project  number: RBSI140Q5F

    Duration of the project: 47 months (36 + 11 months of extension) (September 23rd, 2015 – August 23rd, 2019)

    Primary ERC sector: SH4 – The Human Mind and Its Complexity: Cognitive science, psychology, linguistics, education

    Primary ERC sub-sector: SH4_7 – Linguistics: typological, historical and comparative linguistics

    Secondary ERC sub-sector: SH4_6 – Linguistics: formal, cognitive, functional and computational linguistics

    Keywords: Morphosyntax, Comparative Linguistics, Generative Grammar, Interfaces, Nominal Predication


    This project is concerned with three syntactic constructions, the analysis of which can shed light on the nature of nominal predication and its role in the building up of Information Structure. More specifically, it deals with:

    1) cleft and pseudocleft sentences (1-2):

    2) locative and existential constructions (3-4):

    3) a specific type of ‘Split Nominal’ construction, in which a modifier is interpreted as a focused/contrastive element in the noun phrase; this is illustrated by the Italian examples below, in which a modifier (e.g., a demonstrative (5), an attributive adjective (6), a possessor (7)) is focused while the head noun is marginalized and introduced by the preposition di ‘of’:

    The comparative analysis of these constructions will focus on their interpretive properties at the Interfaces. This means that the interplay between different levels of grammar (morphology, syntax, semantics, prosody, discourse) will be taken into account. In this line of analysis, the cross-linguistic perspective is crucial to compare theories, evaluate results and consider the implications thereof in terms of both broad typology and parametric microvariation.
    The first objective of this project is to provide a deeper insight on the nature of predication and contribute to the understanding of its informative role. In particular, based on the working hypothesis that the constructions at issue implement different (types of) copular constructions, this analysis will provide a comprehensive account on the role of nominal predication in the building up of information-structural meanings.
    A second major result concerns the assessment of an innovative methodology of research, consisting in the combination of fieldwork, corpus linguistics and testing of interpretive judgments with informants. In particular, empirical data will be collected both from already existing grammars, corpora and databases (such as TerraLing, the World Atlas of Language Structures – WALS) and from fieldwork research with native-speaker consultants. Then, specific diagnostics will be created to evaluate the working hypotheses emerged from the analysis of spontaneous data.
    The collection of data will also obtain a side (but not minor) goal, consisting in the creation of an original corpus of spoken language in which the relevant phenomena can be further investigated in future works.
    Finally, the proposed interface analysis and the research for a unified account of different constructions can obtain an additional result from a cognitive perspective: it can shed light on the mechanisms governing language-specific grammars and, more generally, the architecture of language as a module of human mind. As a consequence, this work can also contribute to the studies in cognitive science, under the assumption that the language faculty is an innate module of human cognition.

    Research products relevant to the project

    • Ramaglia, Francesca (2019), “Costruzioni copulari marcate nel sintagma nominale”, ms. [download]
    • Ramaglia, Francesca & Mara Frascarelli (2019), “The (information) structure of existentials”, in Ludovico Franco & Paolo Lorusso (eds.), Linguistic variation: structure and interpretation, Berlin/New York, Mouton de Gruyter, 561-598. [Open access available here]
    • Ramaglia, Francesca & Mara Frascarelli, eds. (2019), Copular constructions, existentials and related phenomena, Special Issue of The Linguistic Review. [ISSN (Online) 1613-3676, ISSN (Print) 0167-6318]
    • Ramaglia, Francesca & Mara Frascarelli (2019), “Copular constructions, existentials and related phenomena. An introduction”, in Francesca Ramaglia & Mara Frascarelli (eds.), Copular constructions, existentials and related phenomena, Special Issue of The Linguistic Review. [https://doi.org/10.1515/tlr-2019-2046]
    • Ramaglia, Francesca (2019), “An interface analysis of marked copular constructions: The case of there-sentences”, in Francesca Ramaglia & Mara Frascarelli (eds.), Copular constructions, existentials and related phenomena, Special Issue of The Linguistic Review. [https://doi.org/10.1515/tlr-2019-2044]
    • Ramaglia, Francesca (2019), “A comparative interface analysis of existential sentences in Romance”, in Lingue e Linguaggio XVIII (1), 59-90. [https://www.rivisteweb.it/issn/1720-9331/issue/7821] [pre-print download]
    • Ramaglia, Francesca (2018), “Existentials: The SIR project”, paper presented at the XLIV Incontro di Grammatica Generativa, Workshop on Existential Constructions – WEC-SIR (March 1-3, 2018 – University of Roma Tre). [handout download]
    • Ramaglia, Francesca (2017), “Information Structure, copular constructions and there-sentences: exploring patterns of microvariation in Romance languages”, talk presented at Going Romance 31 (December 7-9, 2017 – Universitatea din Bucureşti). [handout download]
    • Ramaglia, Francesca (2017), “The (Information) Structure of Marked Copular Constructions: a multi-layered interface approach to it– and there-sentences”, talk presented at the 1st International Workshop on the Interface of Information Structure and Argument Structure (October 25-27, 2017 – Universidad de Sevilla). [handout download]
    • Ramaglia, Francesca & Mara Frascarelli (2016), “There is a Topic in the cleft. Non-prototypical discourse strategies at the interfaces”, talk accepted for presentation at the International workshop on non-prototypical clefts (December 15-16, 2016 – Katholieke Universiteit Leuven). [This presentation was not given due to the impossibility for the speakers to attend]
    • Ramaglia, Francesca (2016), “Definiteness effect and (null) indefinite variables: Focusing nominal predicates at the Interfaces”, talk accepted for presentation at the 26th International Colloquium on Generative Grammar (April 13-15, 2016 – University of Extremadura, Cáceres). [This presentation was not given due to the impossibility for the speaker to attend]
    • Ramaglia, Francesca & Mara Frascarelli (2016), “Towards a unification of copular constructions: An integrated approach”, poster presented at the XLII Incontro di Grammatica Generativa (February 18-20, 2016 – University of Salento). [download]

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