Western Papers in Linguistics / Cahiers linguistiques de Western

Article Title

Geometric Structure of Features and Linear Order of Clitic Pronouns in Occitan Dialects in the Department of Alpes-Maritimes


I focus on the linear order of clitic pronouns in Occitan dialects spoken in the Department of Alpes-Maritimes. If the linear order of clitic pronouns varies between spoken dialects this could indicate the existence of different dialects which distinguish themselves in terms of grammar. In (1) the third person plural accusative pronoun (direct object) precedes the first person pronoun (indirect object).

(1) dˈi lu mi tell .2SG.IMPER 3SG.ACC 1SG

‘Tell me (it).’ (Malausse[1] ((PAM A, section I, line 4))

By contrast, in (2), for a closely related dialect, the reverse order is observed between the accusative pronoun and the first person pronoun:

(2) dˈiga m u


‘Tell me (it).’ (Grasse (PAM A, section I, line 4))

This study has two aims: (i) to account for the linear order of object clitic pronouns in Occitan dialects [T2] (ii) to represent the variation in linear order of pronoun clitics in Occitan in the context of other Romance languages such as Spanish, Catalan, French, and Italian. [T3]

In certain Romance languages clitic pronouns would be arranged from left to right, from the least complex to the most complex, according to a hierarchical geometry of features. This hypothesis concerning the linear order of clitics is called the “Least Leafy to the Left (LLL)” Constraint (Heap 1998:240).

Spanish (3) and certain dialects of non-standard French (langue d’oïl) (4) share linear orders of clitics that would follow this constraint (Heap 2005, Heap and Kaminskaïa 2001).

(3) Buscó la pala y se la trajo

Look.3SG.PASSÉ (for) the shovel and 3SG.REFL 3SG.FEM.ACC bring.3SG.PASSÉ

a la casa.

to the house.

‘He/She looked for the shovel and brought it home.’ (Heap 2005:93)

(4) Dis- moi- le


‘Say it to me.’ (Heap and Kaminskaïa 2001:107)

The linear order of pronouns in certain dialects of Occitan would not always be predicted by the LLL constraint.

In Niçard the direct object pronoun normally precedes the indirect object pronoun (i.e. ACC + DAT) (Gasiglia 1984:157):

(5) Lou mi douna

3SG.ACC 1SG give.3SG.IND

‘He gives it to me.’ (Gasiglia 1984:157)

As previously noted by Dalbera (1994:609), the linear order for our data varies (ACC + DAT or DAT + ACC) according to the dialect within Alpes-Maritimes.

It is possible that there simultaneously exists a constraint for alignment according to case (cf. Grimshaw 2001) and another based on the LLL constraint. In the Theory of Optimality these two constraints can have a different ranking in the different dialects. Our study will contribute to better establishing whether or not a morphological model can explain the linear order of clitic pronouns in Occitan dialects.

[1] Unless otherwise specified, the names match the names of the localities studied by Dalbera (1994) in obtaining his corpus. PAM (Parlers des Alpes Maritimes) consists of two questionnaires, PAM A and PAM B.

[T1]It is not established that this is, in fact, a neuter pronoun. This was the example used for my WISSLR presentation.

[T2]Selon Oliviéri, il n y a pas UNE langue occitane ayant plusieurs dialects. UN dialecte = UNE langue

[T3]En d'autres mots, nous voulons examiner les faits de l'occitan dans le contexte de ce qui a été observé à ce jour avec d'autres variétés romanes.

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