Clitic climbing (or lack thereof) and the Copy Theory of Movement

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Based on consideration of understudied clitic-climbing facts from Spanish and other Romance varieties, I provide a new argument for Lower Copy Pronunciation within the Copy Theory of Movement. In the main case investigated here clitic climbing unexpectedly fails to occur for morphophonological reasons. To assume that clitic climbing in such cases is impeded in the syntax by an operation at a subsequent stage (i.e., PF) would induce a serious ‘look-ahead’ problem. In order to circumvent this issue, the data are now cast as a case where syntactic movement of the clitic can take place across restructuring/clause-union contexts, with PF factors deciding to PF-privilege (i.e., pronounce) a lower copy in a non-trivial chain with the aim of salvaging a derivation that would otherwise fail. The data thus add to the vast repertoire of phenomena amenable to a lower-pronunciation account within the overarching Copy Theory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalGlossa: a journal of general linguistics
Volume4(1): 84
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2019


  • syntax
  • clitic climbing
  • morphophonology
  • Copy Theory of Movement
  • clitics
  • Romance


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