Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





William Haddican

Committee Members

Jason Kadybowicz

Jonathan Nissenbaum

Subject Categories



Non-arguments, Ethical, Clitics, Solidarity, Datives, Spanish


This dissertation explores the properties of what traditional grammars call “superfluous elements” or non-arguments, so-called Ethical Dative Clitics (Bello 1954, Seco 1962 among others) and Solidarity Clitics (Álvarez, Rosario, X.L. Regueira & H. Monteaguedo 1986) in Spanish and Galician. This research fills an important gap in the existing formal literature on these forms, providing the first thorough syntactic and typological investigation of the latter phenomenon.

The study of non-argumental datives encounters difficulties at different levels: at a descriptive/empirical as well as at a theoretical level. From a descriptive point of view, there are no, so far in the literature, clear syntactic tests to divide these two groups of non-arguments. It is crucial to identify features that can help delimit the different categories and set them apart. The source of the theoretical problem comes from its intrinsic syntactic and pragmatic properties, which differ from the other pronominal clitic datives. One of the most distinctive syntactic properties of a non-argument is that is uniquely represented by the dative clitic.

The novelty of this research is that demonstrates not only that non-arguments can be formally distinguished from other datives, arguments marked with dative case, but also delineates how they differ from one another. Ethical Dative Clitics (EthCls) and Solidarity Clitics (SolCls) display different syntactic, morphological, and discursive properties. This study unveils important distributional properties of EthCls and SolCls that have been unnoticed in the literature. Two main restrictions apply to EthCls: (i) the inability to appear in constructions with Subject Dative Experiencers such as Inversion Predicate Constructions (IPCs) and (ii) the inability to appear in certain intransitive constructions. The SolCl share discourse properties with Tag Questions. And the licensing of the SolCl in root and embedded contexts is conditioned by the subject and verb of the matrix clause. The SolCl is banned with “direct speech” verbs with first-person subjects but not in clauses with “non-direct speech” verbs. A syntactic approach to account for the distribution of the SolCl in these contexts might not explain it and I porpose a common-sense pragmatic might explain the distribution.

The various syntactic, morphological and discursive properties that the EthCl and the SolCl manifest, derive from the relation that they establish with the sentence and can be explained structurally. The relationship that the EthCl establishes is between the affectee and the participants of the event while the relationship that the Solidartiy Clitic establishes is between the “Deixis Center” (the Speaker and the Addressee) and the proposition. In order to explain these differences structurally, I propose that the EthCl and the SolCl are different elements: the SolCl is variable and the EthCl is a regular clitic.

The SolCl cannot itself select a referent, and for this reason, it needs to be bound by an operator in the in the left periphery, which is EvalP. The relationship that the SolCl establishes is with the Deixis Center, which is located on the spec positions in a projection in the left periphery. The EthCl, on the other hand, can select a referent in the same way as a regular clitic. The EthCl is linked to a DP nominal in dislocated position. The relationship that the EthCl establishes is on a particular functional projection in the structure (High ApplP), with its specifier position occupied by a PRO that prevents doubling of the EthCl.

This approach differentiates between the SolCl and the EthCl in structural terms on the one hand and allows for a straightforward connection to other pragmatic particles in other languages, on the other hand. This is the case of sentential particles in Northern Italian dialects, allocutive agreement in Basque as well as Honorific markers in Japanese or Korean. The common denominator of these particles and the SolCL is that they are linked to the Deixis Center via binding by an operator.

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