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Hot Topics in Italian Syntax in a Comparative Romance Perspective


Admission requirements

Basic knowledge of syntax.


This course will address some of the most debated issues in Italian and Italo-Romance syntax: clitics, null subjecthood, auxiliary selection, agreeement, unaccusativity and information structure. The topics will be addressed in a comparative Romance perspective, in order for the students to be able to appreciate the great microvariation in the Romance area.
For each topic, the students will be confronted with a number of analyses and open questions and encouraged to debate on the possible solutions, in order to learn how to shape syntactic argumentation and how to build a solid syntactic analysis. Students will also be invited to present their own ideas on a topic of their choice, so as to learn how to outline the results of their own research in conferences.

Course objectives

Learn how to identify and address a syntactic problem.
Learn how to develop syntactic argumentation.
Acquire advanced knowledge of some phenomena in Romance syntax.

Mode of instruction

2-hour weekly seminar
Individual research

Assessment method

The student is required to study the material indicated in class, and do the in-class and take-home assignments. Active participation will contribute to the evaluation (15%). The student shall produce a final paper in which s/he shall illustrate the results of a comparative analysis (70%). The topic shall be first discussed with the teacher and shall be presented in class at the end of the semester (15%).



Reading list

A selection of chapters from:

  • D’Alessandro, R., A. Ledgeway & I. Roberts. 2010. Syntactic variation. The dialects of Italy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Ledgeway, A. 2012. From Latin to Romance. Morphosyntactic typology and change. Oxford: Oxford University press.