Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

A diachronic study of the (negative) additive «anche» in italian

Irene Franco, Olga Kellert, Guido Mensching, Cecilia Poletto


In Modern Italian (MI), negative additives are focalizing elements that typically obey negative concord with a clausal negation or another licensing negative element. In this paper we investigate the diachronic evolution of one negative additive element, neanche ‘neither/not even’. In Old Italian (OI, i.e. the Florentine variety of 1200-1370), there is no evidence of morphologically complex negative additive focalizers such as neanche. Instead, the non-negative additive counter-part of neanche, anche, could combine with a negative marker or some other negative element: e.g. /nonanche ‘neither/not even’.

We show that, in OI, (i) the morphologically non-negative additive anche can be used both as a negative and as a positive polarity item; (ii) anche can function either as an aspectual marker with the meaning ‘(not) yet’, or as an additive focalizer with the meaning ‘neither/not even’; (iii) its different interpretations are mirrored by different syntactic positions, i.e. anche has an aspectual interpretation in the postverbal position taking scope over a verbal phrase (vP), and it has an additive interpretation in the preverbal position taking scope over a determiner phrase (DP); and (iv) anche triggers a focus semantic interpretation under both conditions: as an additive and an aspectual marker (see Rooth 1985, Chierchia 2013 on focus semantics).

We account for the diachronic evolution from neg(ation) + anche in OI to neanche in MI by suggesting that the grammaticalization of neanche originates from a particular construction in which the additive anche is immediately right adjacent to the negative disjunction (i.e. né+anche>neanche).

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