SV and VS total interrogatives in ibero-romance: The role of phonetically unrealised elements in agrammatism

Silvia Martínez-Ferreiro

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1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper aims to characterise difficulties with the order VS in agrammatic speech. To fulfill this aim, we test the production of yes/no questions in 15 agrammatic subjects and 15 matched non-damaged control native speakers of Catalan, Galician and Spanish. The Ibero-Romance varieties under investigation are null subject languages, i.e. they allow post-verbal subjects with independence of the nature of the verb (Rizzi 1982; Belletti 1988; Belletti and Leonini 2004). This is due to the possibility of licensing a null pronominal subject, an "associate" (Chomsky 1995), in the pre-verbal position. The elicitation of yes/no questions provides us with a suitable testing ground since both the orders SV and VS are accepted. Even though our agrammatic sample revealed mastery of yes/no questions to a level of 67.78% crosslinguistically, their pattern of response diverged from non-pathological adult-like usage (with the SV option preferred by agrammatics). Since the projection of the CP-field is required with independence of subject placement (Rizzi 1997, 2002), structural accounts (Tree-Pruning Hypothesis, Friedmann and Grodzinsky 1997) seem to suffer from some shortcomings in accounting for these results. We explore the possibility that the systematic avoidance of the VS order derives from its involvement of an additional expletive pro in pre-verbal position.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-243
JournalPoznan Studies in Contemporary Linguistics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2009


  • Agrammatism
  • Ibero-Romance
  • Null elements
  • Subject placement
  • Yes/no questions


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