How weak are Romanian clitic pronouns?




Romanian, clitics, clitic pronouns, weak pronouns, description, rule-based model


In traditional linguistics, pronouns are divided into two classes: those that can bear word stress, coined “strong”, “full” or “tonal”, and those that cannot, coined “weak”, “clitic”, or “atonal”. However, in the last decades, research on this topic has shown that items generally labeled as clitics are far more complex. Somewhere between words and affixes, these hybrid linguistic entities challenge both description and modeling. As for Romanian, the debate on weak (i.e., clitic) pronouns has been dominated by the question of their categorial status: are these items clitics or affixes? In this article, I present and scrutinize different approaches that support the claim that there are differences between proclitics and enclitics, i.e., between clitics occurring before vs. after the verb; this includes not only positional, but also featural differences. I identify various types of ambiguities in Romanian that could lead to improper data interpretation, and, based on an analysis of syllabicity – the most salient feature of Romanian weak pronouns – I refute claims for treating clitics in preverbal position differently than in postverbal position. Furthermore, using evidence from both historical data and data pertaining to language varieties, I show regularities in the Romanian weak pronoun system, bringing evidence against the claim that Romanian weak pronouns show a great deal of idiosyncrasies.


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