Linguistic atlases as a source for the study of dialectal syntax: The case of the Atles Lingüístic del Domini Català (ALDC)

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© 2017 Universidade de Santiago de Compostela. All Rights Reserved. The Atles Lingüístic del Domini Català (ALDC) is a geolinguistic work that has yielded good results in the study of phonetic and lexical variation. In this paper, I approach ALDC's materials with the aim of obtaining data for the study of syntactic variation, even though this is not the purpose for which the atlas was designed. On the basis of thirteen ALDC's questions, some of them still unpublished, I show that it is possible to obtain data on dialectal variation on three relevant syntactic issues: auxiliary selection, past participle agreement and some properties of unaccusative constructions. On the other hand, I also show that we could reach more precision in the characterisation of syntactic phenomena and their dialectal distribution, if we carried out new data collection planned specifically for this purpose. In particular, with regard to the selection of auxiliary ésser 'be' or haver 'have' in the perfect tenses, it would be possible to explore: (a) the degree of maintenance of ésser according to Sorace's Auxiliary Selection Hierarchy in Alguerese Catalan, (b) the formation of the Rossellonese Catalan system of auxiliary selection, based on verbal person and not on verb type, and (c) the emergence in Majorcan Catalan of mixed constructions in which haver has replaced ésser without loss of agreement between the past participle and the subject. Similarly, regarding agreement between the past participle and the direct object in haver constructions, it would be possible to establish a dialectal cline-with Northwestern Catalan as a low?agreement variety and Majorcan Catalan as the opposite, high?agreement end of the spectrum-based on a hierarchy of the different types of preverbal DO (full phrases, relative pronouns or clitics, with variation in this last case as a function of person, gender and number). Finally, concerning the properties of unaccusative constructions, the lack of number agreement between the verb and the indefinite postverbal NP-a feature that distinguishes Northwestern Catalan to the rest of Catalan dialects-could be related to the overwhelming preponderance of the postposition of the definite NP in unaccusative constructions in this same dialect.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-315
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Atles lingüístic del domini català
  • Auxiliary selection
  • Geolinguistics
  • Past participle agreement
  • Syntactic variation
  • Unaccusativity


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