Ivano Caponigro, UC San Diego

Free-Choice Free Relative Clauses in Italian and Romanian

English, Italian, and Romanian (and many other languages) allow for standard free relative clauses, i.e., non-interrogative wh-clauses with the same distribution and interpretation as definite DPs or PPs (e.g. Elena goes [where Bianca goes]). The same three languages (and many others) also allow for a kind of free relative in which the wh-word has been modified by an affix (e.g., Elena goes [wher-ever Bianca goes]). The semantic behavior of these free relatives, though, is not the same across the three languages, despite their morpho-syntactic identity.

The semantic properties of -ever free relatives in English have received significant attention and insightful proposals have been made (cf. Jacobson 1995, Dayal 1997, von Fintel 2000, Heller and Wolter 2011, Condoravdi 2015, a.o.). In this talk, we present the first semantic investigation of the morpho-syntactic equivalent of -ever free relatives in Italian and Romanian, which we call Free Choice Free Relatives (FC-FRs). We show that semantic properties of FC-FRs differ from -ever free relatives, while closely resembling headed relative clauses introduced by the free choice determiner any in English. Interestingly, neither Italian nor Romanian has a free choice item with the same morpho-syntactic shape (i.e., non-wh determiner) and the same semantic properties as any in English. We sketch a preliminary compositional analysis of FC-FRs that aims to capture these facts, based on recent proposal for any and other free choice items by Chierchia (2013) and Dayal (2013).

We conclude by touching on the open issue of the difference in meaning between -ever free relatives in English and free choice any and the broader issue of how languages may differ in the way the available free choice items and constructions are mapped onto free choice meanings. 

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