Michela Cennamo, Claudia Fabrizio. 2013. Italian (Standard Italian). In: Hartmann, Iren & Haspelmath, Martin & Taylor, Bradley (eds.) Valency Patterns Leipzig. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. (Available online at http://valpal.info/contributions/ital1282, Accessed on 2022-06-29.)
Italian is a nominative-accusative language, with some domains where the encoding of arguments follows an active and marginally an ergative patterning. The syntactic function of arguments is signalled by agreement and word order for the nuclear arguments of the clause, A and P. Recipients and other non-core and peripheral arguments (i.e., adjuncts) are expressed by means of prepositions.
There are no cases, apart from a residual accusative and dative form for clitic pronouns, used, respectively, for core and non-core arguments (e.g., recipients, locative adjuncts etc.). Most typically peripheral arguments, i.e., adjuncts, are coded through prepositional phrases.
Agreement is always with the A/S argument in simple tenses. In compound tenses there occurs split agreement when P is realized by a pronoun: the finite verb always agrees with A, whilst the past participle agrees with the pronominal P (ergative orientation). S always agrees with the finite verb in simple tenses. In compound tenses the past participle agrees with S if the verb is unaccusative, whilst it reverts to the unmarked masculine singular if the verb is unergative.
Syntactically, Italian is an SVO language, characterized by pragmatic rigidity and relative syntactic freedom, with tension between the basic SV(O) order and a pragmatic principle, whereby focal P arguments occur after the verb (Bentley 2006: 363, 368-370, 2008 and references therein).
Dictionaries, scientific literature, naturalistic written examples, constructed by native speaker linguists, the Online Corpus of Written Italian ItWac (Baroni & Kilgariff 2006).
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