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Research Article

Interruption of the Linear Order vs Syntactic Discontinuity

Observations from a corpus of the Works by Petronius, Aulus Gellius and Gregory of Tours

Rossella Iovino    Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Italia     ORCID iD



This paper deals with Latin discontinuous nominal expressions (hyperbatons) both by a diachronic perspective internal to Latin (I-VI cent. A.D.) and compared to Romance languages. A nominal expression can be considered discontinuous when its word order is interrupted by one or more elements. In these cases a violation of the principle of the ‘domain integrity’ takes place. Discontinuity is typical of Latin and sets it apart from Romance languages, in which hyperbatons are not allowed. It is well attested in all phases of Latin so that it is considered one of the most distinctive feature of Latin word order. In this paper, we explore the hypothesis that not all linearly discontinuous orders are real hyperbatons. In fact, cases in which the order Modif.-N or N-Modif. is interrupted by the complement of one of the two categories are frequent; in this perspective the domain of hyperbatons results consistently restricted. As regards real hyperbatons, we will propose the following three syntactic configurations: Type 1 due to the extraction of an element within the phrase; Type 2 due to the insertion of a weak element in second position; Type 3 due to the insertion of a verb. A final observation will concern the fact that we find in Latin kinds of hyperbatons that can be considered a clear sign of those that will develop later in Romance because they involve clitics which are absent in Latin.

Keywords: Latin. Nominal syntax. Discontinuity. Word order.

Language: it

Submitted: March 13, 2017   Accepted: April 10, 2017   Published: Sept. 28, 2017  

permalink: http://doi.org/10.14277/2499-1562/AnnOc-51-17-15

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