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On the evolution of articles into agreement markers in Romanian and Albanian

Publication: Bucharest Working Papers in Linguistics, XV (1)
Publisher:Universitatea din București
Abstract:This paper tries to elucidate the processes by which former determiners became preposed agreement markers in Romanian and Albanian. In both languages, these markers introduce genitives, agreeing possessors and ordinals. In Albanian the same forms are used as agreement prefixes on all old adjectives and participles and can precede cardinals in definite noun phrases. The fact that these items originate in definite determiners is proven not only by their forms, but also by the possibility of marking the matrix DP as definite when they occur in DP-initial position. I propose that the development definite determiner > agreement marker was made possible by the fact that these languages had specialized definite articles, a suffixal one and an independent, “strong” form which was used when suffixation was impossible. It is the strong form which evolved into specialized agreement markers. Another necessary condition for the reanalysis was the possibility for the strong form to appear in postnominal position, which I assume to have been provided by double- or poly-definite constructions. For Romanian, I propose that the reanalysis of al was made possible by the fact that it had restricted contexts of occurrence. For Albanian, where the strong forms must have also been used with adjectives, I adopt the view that a change in the unmarked adjective order from A-N to N-A was the main trigger of the reanalysis, starting from a stage in which postnominal adjectives could only appear in the double definiteness construction, where they were preceded by the article. A further possibility, for Albanian, is the (morphologically triggered) confusion between the strong article and a relativizer stemming from IE *yo-/*y¬ā-, used to introduce postnominal modifiers.
Key words:genitive “articles”, preposed agreement markers, historical syntax, Romanian, Albanian

Citations to this publication: 1

References in this publication: 23

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