On niente: optional negative concord in Old Italian 1
Introduction In this work we will take into account the distribution of the negative quantifier/negative polarity item niente/neente/neiente 'nothing/anything' in the Old Florentine variety, commonly referred to as Old Italian, OI, in traditional and also in more recent work (see a.o. Salvi and Renzi (2010)), spoken from 1200 to approximately 1350. We will show that the distribution of bare niente is sensitive to its adverbial versus argumental status: when niente is adverbial, negative concord
... l, negative concord is obligatory, when niente is argumental, negative concord is optional. We argue that this optionality is only apparent and has to be accounted for in terms of position: niente can only trigger negative concord when it is located in a position in the low IP area 2 above vP, where aspectual distinctions are encoded (an adverbial position presumably dedicated to bare quantifiers only), but not when it stays in its argumental position. Adverbial niente is directly merged in this position and therefore it always displays negative concord. 1 . For the concerns of the Italian academy, Jacopo Garzonio takes responsibility over section 1, 2, 6, and Cecilia Poletto over 3, 4, and 5. This article has been written in the framework of the research project number RBFR08KR5A "Un'inchiesta grammaticale sui dialetti italiani: ricerca sul campo, gestione dei dati, analisi linguistica" (A grammatical inquiry on Italian dialects: field work, data management and linguistic analysis) of the Italian Ministery of University and Scientific Research. We thank Paola Benincà, Esther Rinke, and Günther Grewendorf for comments and discussion. 2 . Within the cartographic approach adopted here, the low IP area refers to a set of projections where aspectual adverbs are located and the past participle can move, as first proposed by Cinque (1999) .