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Microvariation in the Distribution of Resumptive Pronouns in the Left Dislocation Construction in Two Tyrolean Dialects of Northern Italy

Dipartimento di Studi Linguistici e Culturali Comparati, University Ca’ Foscari of Venice, Dorsoduro 1405, Fondamenta Zattere, 30123 Venezia, Italy
Dipartimento di Scienze Umanistiche, University of Palermo, Viale delle Scienze, Ed. 12, 90128 Palermo, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Languages 2023, 8(2), 91;
Submission received: 17 May 2022 / Revised: 15 February 2023 / Accepted: 24 February 2023 / Published: 23 March 2023
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Perspectives on Italian Dialects)


In this paper we document a so-far neglected case of microvariation involving resumptive pronouns in the left-dislocation construction in Meranese, spoken in South Tyrol, and Mòcheno, spoken in the Fersina valley (Trentino). While in standard German resumptive elements in this construction belong to the class of D-pronouns, the two Tyrolean dialects considered in the paper exhibit, as resumptive pronouns, both (i) D-pronouns and (ii) pronominal usages of the distal demonstrative formed by the definite article (D) and sèll corresponding to ‘that one’. We show that in both languages D+sèll forms overlap with German D-pronouns in most contexts, whereas D-pronouns only superficially, but not functionally, correspond to German D-pronouns, and have undergone a weakening process. While the weakening process is in nuce in Meranese, it seems to be nearly completed in Mòcheno, where D-pronouns appear to have acquired a status close to that of subject clitics of Northern Italian varieties.

1. Introduction

In this paper, we investigate cases of Verb third (V3) word orders involving a fronted argument in two Tyrolean dialects: Meranese, spoken in South Tyrol, and Mòcheno, spoken in the Fersina valley (Trentino). The paper focuses on the so-called Linksversetzung construction, found in present-day German (1). In this construction, an XP is fronted and doubled by a resumptive pronoun. If the fronted constituent is a verb argument, the resumptive element is doubled by a so-called D-pronoun (i.e., a pronoun exhibiting the properties of both personal and demonstrative pronouns, cf. Portele and Bader 2016, p. 3) that agrees in case, number, and gender with the fronted argument:
the.dat Johann,this.dathaveIthebook given
‘I gave Johann the book.’
In Meranese and Mòcheno, V3 word orders in the Linksversetzung construction are possible, but, unlike in German, they involve two different series of resumptive D-pronouns: D-pronominal forms familiar from German, and der/di/s (Meranese)/der/de/s (Mòcheno)+ sèll forms,1 which are formed by the definite article (D) and the demonstrative sèll and correspond to ‘that one’ (literally “the (in masculine, feminine, neuter forms) + that”, henceforth: D+sèll forms).2 The two pronominal forms are found in the cases in which a D-pronoun is present in German, cf. the contrast in (2) in which both the D-pronoun der and D+sèll form are possible with a fronted subject, whereas D+sèll is the only form compatible with a fronted direct object.
(2)a.Der Marioj, dersèllj /dèrjisch kèmmen.Meranese
the.nom Mariothe.nom that this.nomis come
b.Der Marioj, dersèllj /derj ist kèmmen.Mòcheno
the Mariothe.nom that he.nomis come
‘Mario has arrived.’
c.NMarioj, nsèllj/*dènnjhònni geschternksechn. Mòcheno
the.accMariothe.accthat this.acchaveIyesterdayseen
‘I saw Mario yesterday.’
d.Amònn,der sèll hònetsechen Mòcheno
amanthethat haveIseen
‘I saw a man.’
In this paper, we will show that the two pronominal classes exhibited by Meranese and Mòcheno differ in their distribution and, crucially, D-pronouns only superficially correspond to German D-pronouns, whereas D+sèll forms are actually those functionally and syntactically overlapping in most cases with German D-pronouns. This implies that Meranese and Mòcheno D-pronouns are not functionally identical to German D-pronouns, whereas D+sèll forms in most cases are.3
According to our knowledge, the data to be discussed in this paper have never been reported for German, where D-pronouns build a coherent class and are fully compatible with all syntactic functions of the fronted argument. D-pronouns, often defined as a kind of demonstrative pronoun, build a special class of pronouns that does not differ from personal pronouns in terms of lexical content and phi-features, but rather in terms of information structure (Portele and Bader 2016, p. 5ff). This implies that the D-pronoun dem in (1) shares the same phi-features (singular, masculine, dative) with the corresponding personal pronoun ihm (him.dat), but, due to its demonstrative character, its distribution is fed by both grammatical and discourse factors, first of all accessibility (Ariel 1990, 2001). Syntactic function does, however, play a role in the distribution of D-pronouns and personal pronouns in written German, as shown by Portele and Bader (2016), who have demonstrated that the first factor favoring the presence of a D-pronoun over a personal pronoun is the syntactic function of the doubled XP. Specifically, D-pronouns are highly disfavored in contexts not involving a syntactic subject, where personal pronouns are found instead. This correlates with the observation that personal pronouns are used as topic continuators in German, whereas D-pronouns are typically found in contexts in which a topic shift has taken place (Abraham 2002; Wiemer 1996; Zifonun et al. 1997). The two other main factors favoring the presence of a D-pronoun emerging from the study by Portele and Bader (2016, p. 23), givenness and position, are directly connected to accessibility.4 According to Portele and Bader (2016), the presence of D-pronouns is favored with new referents, i.e., non-given antecedents. The antecedent’s position within the clause is the third condition favoring the use of a D-pronoun instead of a personal pronoun: in texts, D-pronouns are favored when they refer back to a sentence-final antecedent, i.e., an NP which is not followed by any other potential antecedent (Portele and Bader 2016, p. 15).
In the Tyrolean varieties examined in this paper, the two pronominal forms are found in cases in which a D-pronoun is present in German, cf. the contrast in (2) above in which both the D-pronoun and the D+sèll form are possible with a fronted subject, whereas D+sèll is the only form compatible with a fronted direct object. Crucially, indefinite common nouns can also enter the Linksversetzung construction in Meranese and can be doubled by D-forms; this, we will show, is a key difference with standard German, where the Linksversetzung construction is restricted to definite XPs. Mòcheno has pushed the distribution of D+sèll forms to its maximal consequences, since D-pronouns are only possible with proper names with the syntactic function of a subject, whereas in all other contexts, D+sèll is obligatory, cf. (3).
(3)Proper name; subjectProper name; non-subjectdefinite/indefinite common nouns
Meranese5dèr/der sèll*dèr/okder sèlldèr/?/*der sèll
Mòchenoder/der sèll*der/okder sèll*der/okder sèll
In the two dialects considered in this paper, D-forms have undergone a sort of weakening process, leading to a system in which D+sèll forms correspond to German D-pronouns in most cases, whereas D-forms appear to instantiate a third, different class. As in German, D-pronouns exhibit a hybrid status between demonstrative and personal pronouns in Meranese, which is evidenced by their adjectival usages: dèr mònn corresponds to “this man”, whereas der mònn (here der is the definite article and not the demonstrative, cf. footnote 5) is to be translated as “the man”. The status of D-pronouns in Mòcheno, on the other hand, is closer to that of personal pronouns (despite the fact that the demonstrative meaning is not completely absent), since in this language there exists a special proximal demonstrative form der doi, “this”, and D-pronouns cannot be used as adjectives (cf. der mònn, “the man; *this man”, der doi mònn, “this man”). By investigating a variety of contexts, we will show that the distribution of the two pronominal forms in Tyrolean is fed by their “richness”: in both languages, D+sèll is the richer form and D-pronouns are the less complex, weaker form. Specifically, we show that D+sèll forms actually correspond to German D-pronouns and their distribution is fed by the same factors feeding the presence of D-pronouns (Portele and Bader 2016), whereas Tyrolean D-pronouns have undergone a reduction process according to which they have become compatible with subjects, thus showing properties of a subject clitic pronoun, especially in Mòcheno.
The paper is organized as follows. In Section 2 we discuss the Linksversetzung in standard German and its relation with the V2 character of the language. In Section 3, we describe and account for Linksversetzung in Meranese, whereas Section 4 is dedicated to the construction in Mòcheno. Section 5 compares the two varieties with each other and offers a common explanation. Section 6 contains the conclusions.

2. V2 and the Linksversetzung in Standard German

2.1. German as a V2 Language

Within the typology of V2 languages, German is considered as a prototypical ‘strict V2 language’ (cf. den Besten 1989; Tomaselli 1990; Haider 2010; Holmberg 2015). Descriptively, this means that the finite verb has to appear in the second linear position in all main declarative and interrogative clauses. Therefore, the finite verb in German can be preceded by a single constituent; if this constituent is not the subject, the latter immediately follows the verb, giving rise to subject–finite verb inversion. These properties are illustrated in (4):
(4)a.MariahatgesterndenBrief geschrieben
‘Maria wrote the letter yesterday.’
Another property connected to the strict V2 character of German is the fact that any XP, not only the subject, can appear in the sentence-initial position without resumption: V2 languages are thus X-V languages and not S(ubject)-V languages (Poletto 2002; Benincà 2006; Wolfe 2018). Moreover, asymmetries in the position of the finite verb between main and embedded clauses are attested due to the unavailability of the C° position in embedded clauses due to the presence of a complementizer (den Besten 1989).

2.2. V3 Word Orders in German

Since Altmann’s (1981) work, it has been known that, especially in the spoken language and in texts which replicate an oral, informal style, violations of the strict V2 word order are attested. In this paper we focus on one of the constructions which are typically connected with V3 in present-day German: the so-called Linksversetzung.6 This construction is characterized by the fact that one phrase, which is typically one of the arguments, is fronted to the sentence-initial position and is doubled by a D-pronoun preceding the finite verb. The fronted XP and the co-indexed resumptive D-pronoun agree in case, number, and gender.7 The fronted XP typically has a loose syntactic relation with the clause; prosodically, it can (but does not have to) be separated from the clause by a pause, which we indicate here with a comma.
(5)a.Der Peterj,derj hatmeine Muttergesterngesehen.
the.nom Peterhe.nomhasmy motheryesterdayseen
‘Peter saw my mother yesterday.’
b.Diesen Mannj, denjhabeichgesterngesehen.
this.accmanhim.acchaveI yesterdayseen
‘I saw this man yesterday.’
c.Dem Peterj, demjhabeichgesterngeholfen
the.dat Peterhim.dathaveIyesterdayhelped
‘Peter, I helped him yesterday.’
The resumptive D-pronoun immediately follows the constituent in the sentence-initial position in main declarative clauses. In main interrogative clauses, on the contrary, the D-pronoun appears within the clause; observe the following examples from Wöllstein (2014, p. 55), and see also Bidese and Tomaselli (2005).8
(6)a.Seinen Hundjdenjdarfmandoch wohl mitbringen.
his.acc doghim.accbe.allowedonepart part with.bring
‘One should be surely allowed to bring their dog with them.’
b.Seinen Hundjwarumsollmandenjnicht
his.acc dogwhyshouldonehimneg
with.bring be.allowed
‘Why should one not be allowed to bring their own dog with them?’
The fronted constituent and the resumptive D-pronoun cannot both precede the wh-element or the finite verb in interrogative clauses, cf. the following example.
(7) *Seinen Hundjdenjwarumsollmannicht
his.acc doghim.accwhyshouldoneneg
‘Why should one not be allowed to bring their own dog with them?’
The same pattern is found in imperative clauses; here, the D-pronoun has to follow the verb:
(8) Dem Johanjgibdemjnochein Stück Kuchen.
the.dat Johangivehim. datstilla piececake
‘Give Johann another piece of cake.’
If the fronted argument is a PP, it is resumed by a PP containing the same preposition and a D-pronoun:
(9)a.Mit dem Karljmit demjhabeich gerade gesprochen.
with the.dat Karlwith him.dathaveI just spoken
‘I have just talked to Karl.’
b.Von der Mariajvon derjhabeichdaserfahren.
from the.dat Mariafrom her. dathaveI thatdiscovered
‘I have discovered this from Maria.’
Fronted adverbial specifications (also in form of an adverbial clause) can also be left-dislocated; in these cases, the resumptive elements are da or dann, literally ‘there, then’ (cf. Casalicchio and Cognola 2023 and contributions in De Clercq et al. 2023):
(10)a.In Konstanzj, dahabeichmalgelebt
in Konstanztherehave I once lived
‘I lived once in Konstanz.’
b.[Wenn dunichtausgehenwillst]j,
dannj bleibenwir zuHause
thenstayweat home
‘If you don’t want to go out, we’ll stay at home.’
As discussed in Ott (2014, pp. 272–73), all categories which can potentially be anaphorically resumed can appear in the Linksversetzung construction in German (examples from Ott 2014, p. 272):
(11)a.[CPDassPeter seineFreundingeküssthat]j,dasjglaubeichnicht.
thatPeterhisgirlfriendkissedhasthisbelieveI neg
‘I don’t believe that Peter kissed his girlfriend.’
b.[AP Schön]j,dasjistsie wirklichnicht.
beautifulthatisshereally neg
‘She really isn’t beautiful.’
Importantly, interrogative wh-elements, QPs, nonspecific indefinites, and NPIs are ruled out from the Linksversetzung construction in German (cf. Ott 2014, p. 282).
The Linksversetzung construction is sometimes subsumed to the English “contrastive left dislocation” (also ‘CLD’, cf. Thráinsson 1979) to distinguish it from the hanging-topic construction (cf. Ott 2014, p. 271), but there is consensus in the literature that the construction is not characterized by a contrastive component (cf. Frey 2004). As discussed by Ott (2014, p. 271, footnote 6), the Linksversetzung construction has a topic-marking component, but there are also “non topical uses of dXPs—for example, as narrow-focus answers to questions or in connection with only/even-type focus-sensitive operators—are clearly possible; see (Hinterwimmer and Repp 2010; Repp and Drenhaus 2011). The information-structural realizations of dXPs in CLD are thus congruent with those of XPs fronted to the prefield, which can likewise be topical or focal”.

2.3. Theoretical Accounts of the Linksversetzung Construction

Within the so-called topological model, i.e., a linear, descriptive model proposed to account for the syntax of German (see Höhle 1986; Wöllstein 2014), the syntax of the Linksversetzung is captured through the idea that constituents resumed by a D-pronoun appear in a special position. The topological model relies on the idea that the German clause can be divided into areas (Felder ‘fields’) that correspond to positions for a single constituent or for more XPs. In canonical V2 main clauses, the fronted XP appears in the prefield position (Vorfeld, able to host a single XP), the finite verb in the left bracket (linke Satzklammer, able to host the finite verb), and the following XPs in the middle field (Mittelfeld, where several XPs can appear), whereas the right bracket (Rechte Satzklammer) is the position hosting the non-finite verb parts (or separable prefixes), if present.9
whenhave youthe.accPetermet
‘When have you met Peter?’
b.DenPeterhabeich gestern getroffen.
the.accPeterhaveIyesterday met
‘I met Peter yesterday.’
(13)VorfeldLinke SatzklammerMittelfelRechte Satzklammer
Wannhastdu den Petergetroffen?
Den Peterhabeich gesterngetroffen.
Within this model, the Linksversetzung construction is accounted for by assuming that there exists an extra position (Feld) found above the Vorfeld (i.e. the ‘pre-prefield’), in which Linksversetzungen and hanging topics are hosted, as in the following structure:
the.accPeterwhenhaveyou him.accmet
‘When have you met Peter?’
‘Peter, I met him yesterday.’
(15)VorvorfeldVorfeldLinke SatzklammerMittelfeldRechte Satzklammer
Den Peterdenhabeich gesterngetroffen
Den Peterwannhastdu dengetroffen
Within Generative approaches, the topological structure can be restated in the CP-IP-VP articulation.10
(16)[CP [IP[VP]]]
Within this approach, it is assumed that the fronted XP appears in Spec,CP, the finite verb in C°, whereas the non-finite verb remains in the VP layer preceded by the non-moved constituents (following the idea that German is an OV language in which heads select their complements on the left).
(17)a.Wannhastduden Peter getroffen?
‘When did you meet Peter?’
b.[CP [Spec Wann [ hast [IP du [VP den Peter getroffen ]]]]]
The Linksversetzung is accounted for through the idea that there exists an additional CP position, as in (18):
(18)a.Den Peterj, denjhabeichgesterngetroffen.
‘I met Peter yesterday.‘
b.[CP Den Peter [CP [Spec den [ habe [IP ich [VP gestern getroffen]]]]]]
Since the Linksversetzung construction exhibits properties of both base-generated and moved constituents, traditional approaches either analyze it as a CP-adjoined position (Frey 2004) or as a position involving movement (Grohmann 2003; Grewendorf 2008; the latter in terms of “big DP”). On the other hand, Ott (2014) proposes a biclausal account with ellipsis in the highest clause (see also Broekhuis and Corver 2016):
‘I saw Peter yesterday.‘
b. [CP1 den Peteri habe ich gestern ti gesehen] [CP2 deni habe ich gestern gesehen]
(Ott 2014, p. 278)
(20)[CP1 dXP [… ti]] [CP2 … correlate …] (Ott 2014, p. 278)

2.4. The Present Investigation

This paper aims at investigating the distribution of pronouns in the Linksversetzung construction involving a fronted argument in two German dialects spoken in Northern Italy: the variety spoken in the town of Merano (South Tyrol) and Mòcheno (spoken in the Fersina valley), cf. Figure 1.11
These two varieties belong to the South Bavarian dialects, specifically to the Tyrolean group. More specifically, Meranese is representative of the varieties spoken in South Tyrol (by around 300,000 speakers), whereas Mòcheno is a heritage Tyrolean variety (see Alber 2013 for phonological arguments in favor of the status of Mòcheno as a “canonical” Tyrolean dialect) spoken by around 600 speakers featuring conservative traits (cf. Rowley 2021)12 and peculiar features, especially at the lexical level, due to the long contact situation with Romance varieties (cf. Rowley 2021 and Cognola 2013a, 2013b for the idea that syntactic traits are not direct borrowing). All speakers of Meranese also speak the regional variety of Standard German and study the standard language at school; Italian is spoken, mainly as L2, by most of them (with different proficiency levels). Mòcheno is spoken in a situation of bidialectism with the local Trentino dialect (cf. Cognola 2011; Cognola and Bidese 2016), whereas the prestigious variety is regional Italian.
Our investigation starts out from a peculiar and according to our knowledge so-far neglected case of microvariation, i.e. the presence in these two Tyrolean dialects of two resumptive elements for fronted arguments in the Linksversetzung construction: D+sèll forms and D-pronouns.
(21) Der Marioj, dersèllj /dèrjisch kèmmen.Meranese
the.nom Mariothe.nom that this/he.nomis come
‘Mario has arrived.’
In what follows, we will investigate the pattern of distribution of the two pronominal forms in (21), which is not attested in present-day German, in order to understand whether they are in free variation or alternate on the basis of rules internal to the two grammars. Specifically, we will address the research question of how they are used with different types of arguments (such as proper names and definite common names) in order to establish whether the distribution of the different resumptive forms is fed by the nature of the fronted XP. The second research question we address is whether the two Tyrolean dialects pattern together or whether they exhibit differences to be connected with syntactic microvariation.

3. Linksversetzung in Meranese

3.1. Meranese as Strict V2 Language

As far as the V2 property is concerned, the Tyrolean dialect spoken in the town of Merano can be subsumed to the group of strict V2 languages, since it displays a system fully comparable to that of standard German, as discussed in Section 2; in main declarative and wh-interrogative clauses, the finite verb moves to the left periphery and it is preceded by one constituent, as the following examples show:13
(22)a.DiMariahòttgeschtern npriafkschribn.
the Mariahasyesterdaythe.accletterwritten
b.Gesternhòttdi Marianpriafkschribn.
yesterdayhas the Mariathe.accletter written
c.*Gesterndi Mariahòttnpriafkschribn.
yesterdaythe Mariahas the.accletterwritten
‘Maria wrote the letter yesterday.’
In addition, Meranese shows the same main-embedded asymmetry involving the position of the finite verb found in Standard German, as in example (23), in which the finite verb appears in the sentence-final position; compare (22) with the following:
(23)dassdiMariagesternnpriafkschribn hòtt.
thattheMariayesterdaythe.accletterwritten has
‘… that Maria wrote the letter yesterday.’
As in standard German, violations of the strict V2 word order are possible in some contexts (cf. Casalicchio and Cognola 2023), among which the Linksversetzung is found.
Different categories, like arguments and adverbs, are compatible with the Linksversetzung, and the resumptive pronoun immediately follows the fronted constituent with which it agrees in case and number.
(24)a.Dènn mònnj, dènnj hònni geschternksechn.
this.acc man,this.acc haveIyesterdayseen
‘I saw this man yesterday.’
b.In Meranj, sèmmj regnetssèltn.
In Meranthererainsitrarely
‘It rarely rains in Merano.’
In interrogative clauses, the resumptive element must appear within the clause (in the Mittelfeld):
(25) Dènnmònnjvènnhòsch‘ndènnjksechn?
this.accmanwhen you have.prt this.accseen
‘When have you seen this man?’
In the next sections, we focus on the left dislocation of arguments and in particular on the properties of the resumptive element.

3.2. Some Properties of the Demonstrative and the Case System of Meranese

Despite the fact that the properties of the Linksversetzung construction are apparently identical between Meranese and German, the two languages differ in one respect: while in German the resumptive element is always a D-pronoun, in Meranese, two resumptives are available: D-forms and D+sèll pronouns.
(26)DerMarkusjder sèllj /dèrj isch kèmmen.
theMarkusthe that thisiscome
‘Markus arrived.’
These two forms interact with the case system. In this respect, Meranese has replaced the morphological genitive with a prepositional phrase headed by fon ‘of’, as is typical of nearly all German dialects, as well as of spoken German. In addition, the dative also tends to be replaced by a prepositional phrase, headed by in. There is much variation between the morphological and the prepositional dative, and the choice also depends on the lexical item and on the determiner used, as well as on its gender and number (cf. Seiler 2003, 2006):
(27) Ihònin di kindera zuckerlegebn.
Ihave to the childrena candygiven
‘I gave the children a candy.’
In Meranese, D-forms (featuring [ε] as the stem vowel) can be used adjectivally and pronominally, and in both cases their meaning is primarily that of a proximal demonstrative: dèr mònn, ‘this man’; dèr, “this one”.14 The D+sèll forms appearing in the Linksversetzung construction, on the other hand, are pronominal usages of the distal demonstrative; see der sèll mònn ‘that man’, der sèll, “that one”. The distal demonstrative is thus a combined form, in which the first element is homophonous with the article der (featuring [ǝ] and not [ε] as the stem vowel), while sèll derives from the adjective and adverb selben, ‘same’.15 Note that no intervening material is allowed between the two parts of the distal demonstrative. When it is used adjectivally, the whole demonstrative precedes the noun: der sèll mònn, ‘that man’. The determiner der is inflected for case, while sèll can be inflected or not: der sèll pam, ‘the.nom sèll tree’ vs. n sèll/sènn pam, ‘the.acc sèll tree’.16
(28) Dèrmònn (do)hòttunglaitet,net der sèll(mònn).
this.nomman (here)hascalled, negthe.nom thatmann
‘This man called, not that one.’
As far as the realization of the dative is concerned, both demonstratives show some peculiarities. As Table 1 shows, the proximal dèr only occurs as a morphological dative in the masculine/neuter (dèm), but the preposition is optional (29). On the other hand, it tends to occur as a prepositional dative in the feminine (in dèr) and only occurs in this form in the plural (in de). The distal der sèll, on the other hand, always occurs as a prepositional dative with the exception of the feminine form, where both the morphological and the prepositional dative are possible. In addition, in the masculine/neuter singular, the form sèll occurs preferably inflected, as in sèmm (but im sèll is also possible): in sèmm mònn/im sèll mònn, ‘that.dat man’.17
(29)(In)dèmmònn hònnia puachgebn
tothis.datmanhaveI a bookgiven
netin die sèllkinder
negto the thesechildren
‘I gave a book to this man, not to those children.’

3.3. Distribution of the Two Resumptive Forms

We have seen that in Meranese two forms, D-pronouns and D+sèll forms, are, unlike standard German, available with the Linksversetzung construction. Note that speakers do not perceive the distal/proximal contrast between them, which clearly have a hybrid pronominal/demonstrative status, i.e., they can, but do not have to, be interpreted as demonstrative forms and can function as simple pronouns. In this section, we discuss the distribution of the two resumptives, which we show depends on the semantic and syntactic properties of the fronted argument. From a semantic point of view, we distinguish between proper names and common nouns, which are further divided into definite and indefinite nouns. In addition, there is a difference between modified and unmodified nouns. Syntactically, we consider the different syntactic roles of the resumed element (subject vs. direct object vs. indirect object).18

3.3.1. Resumptive V3 with Proper Names

With proper nouns, we observe the use of D+sèll forms in all contexts. D-forms, on the other hand, are only fully grammatical with unmodified subjects (30a). On the other hand, their use with modified subjects and indirect objects is either strongly marginal or fully ungrammatical:
Resumed subjects:
(30)a.Der Marioj, der sèllj/dèrj ischkèmmen.
the.nom Mario,the.nom that/this.nom isarrived
‘Mario has arrived.’
b.Der Marioj,dendunitt kènnsch,
the.nom Mario, that.acc younegknow
der sèllj/*dèrj ischkèmmen.
the.nom thatthis.nomisarrived
‘Mario, who you don’t know, has come.’
Resumed objects:
(31)a.N Marioj, n sèllj     / *dènnj hònnigeschternksechn.
the.acc Mario,the.acc that/this.acc haveIyesterdayseen
‘Mario, I saw him yesterday.’
b.Im Marioj, in sèmmj/??dèmmj hònnia puachgem.
in.the Mario, in.the that/this.dat haveI a bookgiven
‘I gave Mario a book.’
Resumed indirect objects:
(32)a.N Marioj,derin Lanalepp, n sèllj/ ??dènnj
the.acc Mariothat.nomin Lanalivesthe.acc that this.acc
haveI yesterdayseen
‘Yesterday I saw Mario, who lives in Lana.’
b.Im Marioj, derin Lanalepp,in sèmmj/* dèmmj
in.the Mariothat.nom in Lanalivesin.the thatthis.dat
hònnia puachgebn.
haveIa bookgiven
‘I gave a book to Mario, who lives in Lana.’
The examples (30–32) show that D+sèll forms are always grammatical with proper nouns. D-forms, on the other hand, are ruled out or strongly marginal with any modified argument and with objects in general; they are only acceptable with unmodified subjects.

3.3.2. Resumptive V3 with Definite Common Nouns

The pattern found with proper names is not replicated with common nouns. In the case of definite common nouns, all types of arguments, both modified and unmodified, can be resumed by D-forms (33–35). The distribution of D+sèll, on the other hand, is more complex to describe: it is fully grammatical with modified subjects (33b) and indirect objects (35b), and ungrammatical with unmodified subjects (33a). With unmodified direct objects it is strongly marginal (34a). Finally, with modified direct objects and with unmodified indirect objects, it is marginal, as shown in (34b) and (35a):
Resumed subjects:19
(33)a. Dèr mònnj, dèrj/*der sèllj hòttdiksuacht.
this.nom man this.nom/the.nomthat hasyou.accsearched
‘This man was looking for you.’
b.Dèr mònnj, der sèmm steat,der sèllj /dèrjhòtt di
this.nom manthat.nom therestaysthe.nom thatthis.nomhas you
‘That man over there was looking for you earlier.’
Resumed direct objects:
(34)a.Dènn mònnj, dènnj / ??in sèllj hònni
this.acc man, this.acc / the.acc thathaveI
‘I saw this man yesterday.’
b.Dènn mònnj, denduakènnsch, dènn / ?n sèmmj
this.acc man,that.accyoualsoknowthis.acc the.acc that
‘I have seen the man who you also know.’
Resumed indirect objects:
(35)a.In dèmm mònnj,dèmmj/?in sèmmj hònnia puach gebn.
in this.dat man, this.dat/in that.dathaveIa book given
‘I gave this book to this man.’
b.In dèmm mònnj,denduakènnsch,dèmmj/in sèmmj
in this.dat man, that.accyoualsoknowthis.dat/in that.dat
hònnia puachgebn
haveIa bookgiven
‘I have given a book to this man who you also know.’
The examples (33–35) show that there are two factors improving the grammaticality of D+sèll: when the argument is an indirect object and when it is modified. The proximal dèr is never ruled out, although it is dispreferred with modified indirect objects.

3.3.3. Resumptive V3 with Indefinite Common Nouns

Unlike standard German, in Meranese the Linksversetzung construction is also possible with indefinite nouns, and crucially, in this context, the use of D+sèll forms is highly restricted.
D-forms are used as resumptive forms with all types of arguments and are only marginal with modified indirect objects (36–38). Therefore, with respect to D-forms, we find exactly the same pattern as with definite common nouns. However, the picture changes when the distal resumptive D+sell is considered, because it is much more restricted than with definite common nouns: it is only fully grammatical with modified indirect objects (38b) and marginal with modified subjects (36b) and unmodified indirect objects (38a). In the other cases, it is ungrammatical:
Resumed subjects:
(36)a.A mònnj, dèrj / * der sèllj hòttunglaitet.
a.nom man,this.nom / the.nom thathascalled
‘A man called.’
b.A mònnj, derinLanalepp,dèrj /?der sèllj
a.nom man, that.nom in Lanalivesthis.nomthe.nom that
‘A man who lives in Lana called.’
Resumed direct objects:
(37)a.An mònnj,dènnj /*’n sèlljhònni ksechn.
a.acc manthis.accthe.acc thathaveI seen
‘I saw a man.’
b.An mònnj, dendukènnsch,dènnj/*n sènnj
a.acc manthat.accyouknowthis.accthat the.acc
‘Yesterday I met a man whom you know.’
Resumed indirect objects:
(38)a.In an mònnj, dèmmj / ?in sèmmj hònni
in a manthis.dat in that.dathaveI
a puachgebn.
‘I gave a book to a man.’
b.In an mònnj,deniniaksechnkòpphònn,
in a manthat.accIneverseenhadhave
dèmmj/in sèmmj hònniapuach gebn.
this.datin that.dat haveI abook given
‘I gave a book to a man I had never seen before.’
Therefore, we observe that D-forms have the same distribution with both definite and indefinite nouns: they are always grammatical. On the other hand, the use of D+sèll is more restricted with indefinite than with definite nouns: it is only possible with indirect objects (38) and marginal with modified subjects.

3.3.4. Recap

Table 2 offers an overview of the distribution of D-forms and D+sèll pronouns with all syntactic functions of arguments considered. The distribution of the two resumptives tends to be complementary: D+sèll is clearly the preferred option with proper names, except with unmodified subjects, while D-forms are preferred with common nouns. Moreover, D+sèll is acceptable with some types of common nouns and there is clearly an effect of modification: when an argument is modified, it is nearly in all cases compatible with D+sèll forms. The resumptive D-form, on the other hand, tends to be more accepted with unmodified, than with modified, proper names.

3.4. Analysis

We propose that the distribution of D-pronouns and D+sèll pronominal forms in Meranese is fed by the nature of the antecedent, and it is ruled by the same factors identified for the distribution of D-pronouns in German by Portele and Bader (2016). Specifically, we propose that D+sèll forms mostly pattern with German D-pronouns, whereas Meranese D-pronouns represent a different class.
Portele and Bader (2016) show that the preference for D-pronouns over personal pronouns is exhibited with (i) non-subject, (ii) new, and (iii) salient (close to the pronoun) antecedents.
For Meranese, we propose that the factors favoring D+sèll forms over D-pronouns are (i) definiteness and discourse givenness (new).20 Leaving aside for the moment the case of subject proper names, with which both D-pronouns and D+sèll forms are possible, in all other functions, proper names appearing in the Linksversetzung construction obligatorily require the presence of D+sèll forms. As shown in (39), proper names are ranked high in Aissen’s (2003, p. 437) definiteness scale, whereas common nouns are lower in the scale and are ranked according to their being definite and, subsequently, their being specific. As a consequence, non-specific nouns are at the bottom of the scale:21
(39)Personal Pronoun → Proper Name → Definite NP → Indefinite specific NP → Non-specific NP
It appears clear that in Meranese, the more definite a noun is, the more likely it is to be compatible with D+sèll resumption, whereas D-pronouns are used with elements that are lower on the scale, i.e., are less definite.
We assume that there is an internal hierarchy within the definiteness category which interacts with the distribution of D-pronouns and D+sèll forms. With nouns preceded by the definite article or by the demonstrative, such as der/dèr mònn, ‘the/this man’, D+sèll is usually ruled out. However, when the definite noun is preceded by a possessive determiner, D+sèll forms are possible:
(40)Main chefj,??dèrj/der sèlljhòttmihaint unglaitet.
my bossthis/the thathasme.acctoday called
‘My boss has called me today.’
Our hypothesis is that the obligatoriness of D+sèll forms in Meranese is due to a sort of “definiteness effect”, with XPs that are higher in the definiteness hierarchy being more prone to only be compatible with D+sèll forms, cf. (41).
(41)Personal Pronoun → Proper Name → Definite NP → Indefinite specific NP → Non-specific NP
der sèllder sèll/dèr
There is, however, another context which favors the presence of D+sèll forms across all considered classes: the modification by a relative clause. We suggest that this piece of data follows from the fact that the distribution of D+sèll forms, like D-pronouns in German, is subject to a givenness effect, with D+sèll forms being favored with new referents. Building on the idea that modified, heavy constituents typically realize new information (cf. Arnold et al. 2000), we suggest that the presence of D+sèll forms specifically with modified XPs might be due to the fact that modified XPs typically realize new information, as in German (where new antecedents tend to be doubled by a D-pronoun).
According to the proposed account, the distribution of D-pronouns and D+sèll forms is fed by definiteness and givenness in Meranese, with D+sèll forms being preferred with more definite and new (modified) referents (as German D-pronouns) and D-forms being compatible with less definite and given (unmodified) antecedents.
There are two contexts which remain unexplained so far: the presence of D-pronouns (along with the expected D+sèll) with subject proper names and with indefinite nouns and the fact that both forms are possible with fronted indirect objects (except with proper names, where only D+sèll forms are grammatical). As for the case of indirect objects, we suggest that D+sèll forms are favored due to their non-subject function, as is the case of D-pronouns over personal pronouns in German (cf. Portele and Bader 2016, p. 23).22
There is only a single context which we could not yet account for, i.e., that of proper names with the function of subjects, which can be resumed by both D-pronouns and D+sèll forms. The possibility of having D-forms in this context is completely unexpected within the present account, since a noun’s definiteness disfavors doubling with D-forms. We propose that the case of subject proper names cannot be accounted for along the lines of what has been proposed for German, and we suggest that in order to account for the distribution of D-pronouns with subject proper names, data of another Tyrolean dialect, i.e., Mòcheno, need to be discussed.

4. Mòcheno

4.1. Mòcheno as a V2 Language

Mòcheno is analyzed as a relaxed V2 language (Cognola 2013a, 2013b, 2019) in which V2 is to be understood as an abstract property involving the movement of the finite verb to a C head of an articulated left periphery in all main clauses and not as a linear restriction (similar to Old Romance languages; see Benincà 2006; Poletto 2002; Holmberg 2015, among others). The V2 analysis is backed up by the presence in Mòcheno of the properties typically connected with the V2 character of a language (see den Besten 1989; Wolfe 2018; Cognola 2013a, 2013b, 2019). The first is subject–finite verb inversion in main clauses (obligatory with subject pronouns and with focused NP subjects):
(42)a.Gesterhòter a puachkaft.
yesterdayhashea bookbought
‘Yesterday he bought a book.’
b.Gesterhòtde mamakafts puach.
yesterdayhasthe mumboughtthe book
‘It was the mum who bought the book yesterday.’
Moreover, any XP can appear in the sentence-initial position. Therefore, Mòcheno is not an SVO language, but an XVO language. Moreover, direct objects do not need to be doubled by a clitic when they are fronted, cf. (43):
(43)a.S puachhòtde mamakaft.
the bookhas the mumbought
‘The mum bought the book.’
b.En de mamahòtder Nanegems puach.
to the mumhasthe Johngiventhe book
‘John has given the book to the mum.’
In Mòcheno, there also exist asymmetries between main and embedded clauses in the position of the finite verb, cf. the sentence’s final position of the finite verb in an embedded clause (44).23
(44) Erhòtmer tsòk,as
der Marios puachkafthòt.
the Mariothe bookboughthas
‘He told me that Mario bought the book.’
These typical V2 features co-occur with the availability of V3/V4 word orders, which are possible because the EPP feature responsible for V2 is associated with a low head of the left periphery (see Cognola 2013a, 2013b, 2019, and Casalicchio and Cognola 2018, 2020 for a description and theoretical account of V3/V4 word orders in Mòcheno and Rhaetoromance V2 varieties).
(45)a.S puachgesterhòtde mamakaft.
the bookyesterdayhasthe mumbought
‘Mum bought the book yesterday.’
b.S puachj, berhòtsj kaft?
the bookwho hasitbought
‘Who bought the book?’

4.2. The Linksversetzung in Mòcheno

Casalicchio and Cognola (2023) show that the Linksversetzung construction exists in Mòcheno when adverbial and semi-argumental fronted XPs are involved, whereby the fronted constituent is doubled by the locative element semm; see the following examples from Casalicchio and Cognola (2023, p. 99f).
(46)a.Ka Trea’tj,semmjhònea puach kaft.
in TrentotherehaveIa book bought
‘I bought a book in Trento.’
b.Pet de scharjsemmjschnaiede kòrt.
with the scissorstherecutIthe paper
‘I cut the paper with the scissor.’
Fronted arguments can also appear in the Linksversetzung construction and, like in Meranese, they can be doubled by D+sèll or D-pronouns:
(47) Der Marioder sèllj/derj ist kèmmen.
the Mariothe thatheisarrived
‘Mario has arrived.’
In what follows, we focus on cases of Linksversetzung involving different types of fronted arguments, replicating the methodology used for Meranese in Section 3.
As discussed in Rowley ([2003] 2017) and Cognola and Molinari (2016), Mòcheno has lost morphological marking on accusative DP objects in the varieties of Palù (the one investigated here) and Fierozzo; in these varieties, direct objects appear with the same morphology as syntactic subjects. Accusative case on DPs has been maintained in the variety of Roveda. In all Mòcheno varieties, masculine and neuter DPs functioning as indirect objects are not marked through morphological case, but they are realized by the preposition en followed by the noun without the article (masculine and neuter nouns) or by the noun with the article (feminine and plural). In the variety of Roveda, feminine nouns can appear with the dative article der. Overt morphological case marking remains on pronouns. The different forms are summarized in Table 3 (adapted from Rowley [2003] 2017, p. 134).
As for the resumptive forms appearing in the Linksversetzung construction, D+sèll forms are pronominal usages of the distal demonstrative adjective sèll, cf. en sèlln jor (“in that year, in that time”, Rowley [2003] 2017, p. 156), in opposition with the proximal adjective doin, cf. i pin der jingest van doin hèrrn do (“I am the youngest among these men here”, Rowley [2003] 2017, p. 156, and Cognola and Molinari 2019, p. 137). D-pronouns, on the other hand, formally (but not functionally) correspond to German D-pronouns, i.e., they are definitively closer to personal pronouns rather than to demonstratives (although a vague demonstrative meaning is still present) due to the availability of the proximal demonstrative D+doi in the language. For this reason, Mòcheno D-pronouns will be glossed as personal pronouns in the following examples. The forms are summarized in Table 4.

4.3. Distribution of the Two Pronominal Forms in Relation to the Fronted Noun

4.3.1. Proper Names

When a non-modified proper name is fronted, it can be doubled by pronouns belonging to both pronominal classes.
(48) Der Marioder sèllj/derj ist kèmmen.
the Mariothe thatheisarrived
‘Mario has arrived.’
Unlike in Meranese, both forms are also possible when the proper name is modified by a relative clause.
(49) Der Marioasodunèt kennst
the Mariothatyou.clyouneg know
der sèllj/derj istkèmmen.
the thatheiscome
‘Mario, who you do not know, has arrived.’
With (modified and non-modified) objects, D-pronouns are always ungrammatical and the only possible forms are D+sèll pronouns. When an indirect object is fronted, doubling with the en im form (im is the dative of the strong subject pronoun er, corresponding to German ihm) is possible; crucially, a dative form of the D-pronoun dem/en dem is not attested.
(50)a.En Marioj, en sèllj /*en imj hòne
to.the Marioto thatto himhaveI
a bookgem.
a bookgiven
‘I gave Mario a book.’
b.Der Mario,asodunètkennst,
the younegknow
*derj/der sèllj hònegester tsechen.
hethe thathaveIyesterdayseen
‘Yesterday I met Mario, who do not know.’
c.En Marioj,asodunètkennst,
to.the younegknow
en imj/en sèllj hònea puachgem.
to himto.the that haveIa bookgiven
‘I gave a book to Mario, who you don’t know.’

4.3.2. Definite Common Nouns

All definite common nouns appearing in the Linksversetzung construction are doubled by D+sèll forms, independently of the presence of a modification.24 In the following examples, we give cases involving a modified and a non-modified fronted definite subject and show that the only possible resumptive forms are D+sèll pronouns:
(51)a.De daina kamarotinj*dej/de sèllj istkèmmen.
the your friendshethe thatis arrived
‘Your friend has arrived.’
b.Der studentj,asodunèt kennst
the younegknow
*derj/der sèllj istkèmmen.
hethe thatisarrived
‘The student, who you don’t know, has come.’
As shown in (52), a D+sèll form is obligatory when the fronted argument is the (modified or non-modified) direct object, whereas when it is the indirect object, the strong form en im can again be used.
(52)a.Der mònnj,*derj/der sèllj hòne
the manhethe thathaveI
‘I saw the man yesterday.’
b.En mònnj, en imj/en sèllj hònea puachgem
to.the manto himto thathave Ia bookgiven
‘I gave the man a book.’
c.Der mònnj, asoduaa kennst
the youalsoknow
imj/der sèllj/*derj,hònehaittsechen.
him/the thathimhaveI todayseen
‘I have seen today the man you also know.’
d. En mònnj,asoduaa kennst
to the youalsoknow
en imj/en sèlljhònea puachgem.
to himto thathaveI abookgiven
‘I have given a book to the man you also know.’

4.3.3. Indefinite DPs

The distribution of the forms belonging to the two resumptive classes just sketched does not change when indefinite DPs are considered. The examples below show that the forms of the D+sèll class are the only ones possible, with both modified and unmodified DPs. With fronted indirect objects, doubling can involve a pronominal form im selected by the preposition en, “to” (en im), but not an oblique form of der (which is not attested).25 In (53) we show the examples involving a non-modified argument.
(53)a.A mònnj,*derj/der sèllj istkèmmen.
a manhethe thatisarrived
‘A man has arrived.’
b.A mònnj, derj/der sèllj hònetsechen.
a manhimthe thathave Iseen
‘I saw a man.’
c.En a mònnj, en imj/en sèlljhònea puachgem.
to a manto himto thathaveI a bookgiven
‘I gave a book to a man.’
Modified subject and objects are considered in (54):
(54)a.A mònnj asoduaa kennst
a youalsoknow
*derj/der sèllj istkèmmen.
hethe thatisarrived
‘A man who you also know has come.’
b.A mònnj asoduaa kennst
a youalsoknow
*derj/der sèllj hònèpakemmp.
hethe thathaveImet
‘I have met a man you also know.’
c.En a mònnj asoduaa kennst
to a youalsoknow
en imj/ en sèllj hònea puachgem.
to himto thathaveIa bookgiven
‘I gave a book to a man you also know.’
Table 5 summarizes the distribution of D-pronouns and D+sèll forms in Mòcheno.

4.4. Analysis

The data discussed in the previous sections have shown that Mòcheno has basically generalized D+sèll forms to all contexts involving the Linksversetzung construction and only allows for the use of D-forms in a single case, which is with a fronted proper noun with the function of the syntactic subject. Importantly, a D-form is also possible in Mòcheno with modified names, as repeated in (55) below:
(55)a.Der Mariojderj/der sèllj istkèmmen.
the Mariohethe thatisarrived
‘Mario has arrived.’
b.Der Mariojasoduaa kennst
the youalsoknow
derj/der sèllj istkèmmen.
hethe thatis arrived
‘Mario, who you also know, has arrived.’
The sentences in (55), together with the distribution of the two pronominal forms across all other contexts considered, indicate that the distribution of D-pronouns and D+sèll forms is not fed by the same constraints discussed for Meranese and that the observed pattern calls for a different explanation. In what follows, we suggest that the asymmetry between Mòcheno and Meranese lies in the nature of the two pronominal classes in Mòcheno: D-pronouns will be shown to be weak, unstressed pronouns, whereas D+sèll forms will be shown to be their strong, stressed counterparts.

4.4.1. Status of D-Pronouns in Mòcheno

Cognola (2013b: 80ff) shows that Mòcheno exhibits three morphologically distinct classes of subject pronouns according to Cardinaletti and Starke’s (1999) classification of pronouns: strong, weak, and clitic forms. In her description of Mòcheno, Cognola (2013b) also considers D-pronouns. These three classes of pronouns differ in their phonological and syntactic properties.26 First, only strong forms are stressed, whereas weak and clitic forms are unstressed. Second, only strong forms can (i) appear in isolation; (ii) be coordinated; (iii) be focused. Finally, strong and weak forms are all preverbal, whereas clitics are always postverbal (in X-V sentences).
These properties are illustrated with the third person singular pronominal forms listed in (56).
(56) strongweakclitic
(57)a.Ber ist kèmmen?Si/Er*Der/*de; *se.
who is arrivedshe / hehe / she / she
‘Who arrived? She/he.’
b.Bèr ist kèmmen?Si ont er;*der ont si;*der ont de.
who is arrivedshe and hehe and shehe and she
‘Who arrived? She and he.’
c.SI nèt er ist kèmmen/*DE nèt er ist kèmmen.
she neg heis arrivedshe neg heis arrived
‘She arrived (not he).’
(58)a.Si /De /*Se istgesterkèmmen.
‘She arrived yesterday.’
b.Gesterist se/*de/*si kèmmen.
‘She arrived yesterday.’
According to the tests in Cardinaletti and Starke (1999), D-forms qualify syntactically as weak pronouns in Mòcheno. As expected from the fact that Mòcheno is a V2 language, weak subject pronouns are compatible with the sentence-initial position since they are (unlike clitics) maximal projections able to appear in a Specifier position. Moreover, as expected from the analysis of D-pronouns as weak categories, D-pronouns are incompatible with a preposition in Mòcheno; see the ungrammaticality of dative forms featuring the preposition en and a D-form (*en der) and the obligatoriness of a strong alternative form im or sèll (en im/en sèll).

4.4.2. D-Pronouns and D+Sèll Pronouns in the Linksversetzung

Further evidence for the claim that D-pronouns are weak forms in Mòcheno comes from a closer analysis of the Linksversetzung construction. In (59), we investigate the distribution of D-pronouns and D+sèll forms in co-occurrence with fronted proper names and add a further variable, i.e., information structure, which was not considered above. More specifically, we investigate cases in which the fronted proper name appearing in the Linksversetzung construction in Mòcheno is either a contrastive focus or a contrastive topic. We see that in these cases, optionality disappears and the only grammatical form is D+sèll.
(59)a.*Der Marioj,derjistkèmmennètder Nane.
the Marioheis arrivednegthe John
b.Der Marioj,der sèlljistkèmmennètder Nane.
the Mariothe thatis arrivednegthe John
‘Mario arrived not John.’
What did Mario and Maria do?
c.*Der Marioj,derjhòta puachkaftontde Maria
the Mariohe hasa bookboughtandthe Maria
hòta teetrunken.
hasa teedrunk
d.Der Marioj,der sèlljhòta puachkaftontde Maria
the Mariothe that hasa bookboughtandthe Maria
insteadhasa teadrunk
‘Mario bought a book and Maria had a cup of tea.’
The examples in (59) are particularly relevant, since they indicate that when a pragmatically non-ambiguous context is chosen, i.e. when the fronted proper name is either contrastively topicalized or focused, optionality disappears and the presence of a D+sèll form is forced. These examples also allow us to better describe the contexts in which a D-form is grammatical in Mòcheno. We suggest that D-pronouns can (but do not have to) double a fronted proper name when it functions as an Aboutness topic (a constituent that is “newly introduced, newly changed or newly returned to” (Givón 1983, p. 8), a constituent which is proposed as “a matter of standing and current interest or concern” (Strawson 1964), cf. Frascarelli and Hinterhölzl 2007, p. 88). The weak D-pronoun coindexed with the Aboutness topic can (but does not have to) also appear in coordinated clauses sharing the same subject.
(60) Question: What did Maria do in the meantime?
a.De Mariaj,dejhòta puachkaft.
the Mariashe hasa bookbought
‘Maria bought a book.’
b.De Mariaj,dejhòta puachkaft ont dora
the Mariashe hasa bookbought and then
(dej) hòtateetrunken.
shehas ateadrunken
‘Maria bought a book and then she had a tea.’

4.4.3. Theoretical Account

Let us consider now the syntactic position of fronted proper names and the coindexed D-pronoun. Following Cognola (2013b), we suggest that weak subject pronouns realize SubjP27 in Mòcheno, a criterial A-position hosting the subject of predication28 in whose head subject clitics are also found (cf. Cardinaletti 2004 for this position and Rizzi 2006 for the idea that Subj° hosts clitics in Northern Italian dialects).29 Moreover, we suggest that Subj° is the head associated with the EPP feature responsible for V2 which attracts the finite verb and a maximal constituent to its Specifier position (cf. Holmberg 2015). This implies that the finite verb raises to Subj° in all main clauses. Spec,SubjP can be occupied by a weak pronoun, and in this case, the fronted XP is both the syntactic subject and the subject of predication. When another XP is fronted to Spec,SubjP, like in wh-interrogative clauses, the syntactic subject is realized by a clitic pronoun on Subj° which encliticizes to the finite verb that has raised to Subj°, whereas the wh-element checks the EPP feature associated with Subj° (and functions as the subject of predication).
(61)a.[SubjP De [Subj° hòt[TP hòt [VP a puach kaft]]]]
b.[SubjP Bos [Subj° hòt-se[TP hòt [VP kaft bos]]]]
According to the structure in (61), a D-pronoun can only show up if SubjP is empty and no other XP able to satisfy the EPP feature on Subj° is fronted. Given this configuration, let us now consider the position of the fronted proper name doubled by a D-pronoun or a D+sèll form. Based on the data above, we suggest that when the proper name is doubled by a D-pronoun, it appears in a Topic position and the D-form shows up in Spec,SubjP. In this configuration, the D-pronoun cannot have a topic or a focus reading, which we capture through the idea that the pronoun appears in the lowest FP of the left periphery, which is not associated with a marked discourse reading, but simply with the expression of the subject of predication and the syntactic subject. When a D-pronoun is present, it functions both as the syntactic subject and as the subject of predication. When the subject of predication is an operator, as in (62b), we propose that the wh-element is moved first to the left periphery through Spec,SubjP. In this configuration, the syntactic subject must be realized by a subject clitic in Subj° which appears as an enclitic pronoun due to the movement of the finite verb to Subj° for the need to check the EPP feature responsible for V2.
(62) a.[TopicP Der Mario … [SubjP der[Subj° hòt[TPhòt[VP a puach kaft]]]]]
b. [FocusP Bos [SubjPbos[Subj° hòt-se[TPhòt[VP kaftbos]]]]]
When the proper name is doubled by a D+sèll form, we put forth that the XP bears the [+aboutness] feature and is doubled by a pronoun with the same phi-features as the noun. The discourse features, on the contrary, do not match; the idea is that D+sèll forms always differ from the Aboutness topic in their information status and that they can realize either a focus or a contrastive/familiar topic.30
(63)[TopicP Der Mario [FocusP der sèll [SubjP der sèll [Subj° hòt[TP hòt [vP Mario [VP a puach kaft]]]]]]]
[TopicP Der Mario [ContrTopicP der sèll [SubjP der sèll [Subj° hòt [TP hòt [vP Mario [VP a puach kaft]]]]]]]

5. Discussion

In Section 3 and Section 4, we have shown that D-pronouns and D+sèll forms are competing pronominal resumptive forms in the Linksversetzung construction in the Tyrolean varieties Meranese and Mòcheno. In both languages, the distribution of the two forms is fed by their “richness”: D+sèll pronouns are richer than D-pronouns, which are the less complex forms. In Meranese, “richness” is to be understood in terms of definiteness and information structure: D+sèll forms are preferred in contexts involving a definite or modified (i.e., focused) fronted XP. D-forms are preferred in/restricted to contexts involving a subject antecedent and an indefinite XP, two contexts which, in German, disfavor the Linksversetzung construction (ungrammatical with indefinite XPs) and the presence of a D-pronoun (D-pronouns are disfavored with subject antecedents). These facts clearly indicate that the D+sèll forms of Meranese pattern with German D-pronouns, whereas the distribution of Meranese D-pronouns differs from that of their German counterparts.
In Mòcheno, D+sèll forms are compatible with all contexts, whereas weak D-forms are only compatible when the antecedent is a subject proper name. We have proposed that in this configuration, D-pronominal forms appearing in SubjP realize the phi-features matching those of the Aboutness topic in the left periphery. Since the weak pronoun basically agrees in phi-features with the subject and resumes it without adding any discourse features (which can only be expressed by the D+sèll forms), we suggest that in this configuration the D-pronoun is developing into a clitic pronoun in Mòcheno. Note, however, that this use of the weak pronoun is optional, and it is restricted to proper names, i.e., to NPs exhibiting the highest degree of definiteness, and ruled out with other nouns. In this, Mòcheno appears to replicate the distribution of subject doubling documented in Venetian dialects, specifically in the variety of Venice (cf. Poletto 2000, p. 141), which only allows for subject doubling with proper names. Interestingly, the pattern we have documented crucially differs from that found in the Trentino dialects spoken in the surroundings of the Fersina valley (for instance in the Cembran variety of Montesover spoken in the neighboring Cembra valley), where subject clitic doubling appears to be possible with other noun types, such as definite DP subjects:
(64)a.Nanej(elj)magna.Venice (Poletto 2000, p. 141)
b.El popojeljmagna.Montesover (Poletto 2000, p. 141)
‘John/the child is eating.’
The parallel with Northern Italian varieties indicates that Mòcheno has developed a Linksversetzung construction which is actually closer to Italian left dislocation than to the German construction, but, unlike the neighboring Northern Italian varieties, it has developed a very restricted subject doubling pattern, which corresponds to that of a non-related Northern Italian variety (Venetian). For these reasons, we discard the idea that the pattern we observe is to be connected directly to an effect of contact with Romance varieties.
Since the pattern observed in Mòcheno is a unicum among the languages considered in this paper, we suggest that it has developed due to isolation from other Tyrolean dialects and that it fulfills a tendency already present in Tyrolean. At a closer look, in fact, Meranese D-pronouns appear to constitute an unstable class within the language’s grammar, since they exhibit the characteristics of both weak and strong forms.
Let us consider sentences with a fronted proper name functioning as the syntactic subject. In this case, the DP can be doubled by both D- and D+sèll forms; crucially, when the subject is focused, D-forms are ruled out and only D+sèll forms are allowed, like in Mòcheno.
(65) Der Marioj,DER SÈLLj/*DÈRjischkèmmen nitt der Luca.
the.nom Mariothe.nom thatthis.nomiscome neg the Luca
‘Mario has arrived, not Luca.’
When oblique cases are considered, we see again that D-pronouns can never be focused (whereas D+sèll forms can), which is further evidence for the fact that they are weak forms.
(66)a.Im Marioj,IN SÈMMj/*DÈMMjhònni
in.the Marioin thatthis.dathaveI
a puachgebn.
a bookgiven
‘I have given Mario a book.’
b.N Marioj,N SÈLLj /DÈNNj hònn igeschternksechn.
the.acc Mariothe.acc that this.acc have Iyesterday seen
‘I saw Mario yesterday.’
With definite common nouns, D-forms are available and can also be focused (along with the D+sèll series), both with a fronted subject and fronted objects:
(67)a.Dèr mònnj,DÈRj/*DER SÈLLjhòttdi ksuacht.
this.nomthis.nomthe.nom thathasyou.acc searched
‘This man was looking for you.’
b.Dènn mònnj,N SÈLLj /DÈNNj hònn igeschternksechn.
this.acc manin.acc that this.acc have Iyesterday seen
‘I saw this man yesterday.’
c.Dènn mònnj,den du a kènnsch
this.acc manthis.acc you also know
N SÈNNj /DÈNNj hònn igeschternksechn.
in.acc that this.acc have Iyesterday seen
‘I saw this man you also know.’
d./In dèmm mònnj,DÈMMj IN SÈMMj hònn ia puachgebn.
in this.dat man this.dat in that.dathaveIa bookgiven
‘I gave this man a book.’
In addition, indefinite fronted common names pattern with definite common names in allowing for focused D-forms (along with D+sèll forms) as resumptive pronouns.
(68)a.A mònnj,DÈRj/DER SÈLLjhòttunglaitet.
a.nom manthis.nomthe.nom thathascalled
‘A man called.’
b.A mònnj,derin Lanalepp,DÈRj/DER SÈLLjhòttunglaitet.
a.nom manthat.nomin Lanalivesthis.nomthe.nom thathascalled
‘A man who lives in Lana called.’
c.An mònnj,N SÈNNj/DÈNNjhònnigeschternksechn.
a.acc manin.acc thatthis.acchaveIyesterday seen
‘I saw a man yesterday.’
d.An mònnj,den dukènnsch,N SÈNNj/DÈNNjhònni
a.acc manthat.accyouknowin.acc thatthis.acchaveI
‘I saw a man you also know.’
e.In an mònnj,DÈMMj/IN SÈMMjhònni a puachgebn.
to a.dat manthis.datto that.dathaveIa book given
‘I gave a book to a man.’
The data in (65)–(68) indicate that D-pronouns doubling proper names have (in all investigated contexts) a special status in Meranese, which is comparable to their status in Mòcheno: more specifically, the two languages share the fact that D-forms are not compatible with focalization when a fronted subject is doubled (65) and are thus weak forms. Crucially, in Meranese, the status of D-forms as weak pronouns is not found when definite and indefinite common names are considered. With these fronted DPs, D-forms can be focused, i.e., they are strong forms. This fact appears to indicate that D-pronouns are weak forms in Meranese, too, but crucially only when a fronted proper name is involved in the Linksversetzung construction, possibly indicating that D-forms are developing into clitics starting precisely from the doubling of fronted proper names. However, in Meranese, weak D-pronouns are still far from becoming clitics, since they still exhibit morphological forms for all cases, whereas in Mòcheno, only the subject forms are available, as summarized in Table 6 and Table 7.
We therefore propose that the pattern found in Mòcheno has developed from pushing to its extreme consequences a tendency already present in Tyrolean, i.e., the tendency of D-pronouns to develop into weak forms in opposition to D-pronouns of standard German. In both Tyrolean and Mòcheno, D-pronouns are weak forms with proper names and strong forms are expressed with forms of the D+sèll series.31

6. Conclusions

By discussing novel data from two Tyrolean dialects, Meranese and Mòcheno, in this paper we have documented a so-far neglected case of microvariation across German varieties affecting the syntax and the distribution of resumptive pronouns in the Linksversetzung construction involving fronted verb arguments.
The first asymmetry involves the series of pronouns: while in standard German the Linksversetzung construction involves D-pronouns, Meranese and Mòcheno exhibit two classes of pronouns, D-pronouns, formally corresponding to German D-pronouns and exhibiting a hybrid status between personal and demonstrative pronouns, and D+sèll forms, corresponding to pronominal usages of the distal demonstrative.
The second asymmetry we have documented between standard German and the two Tyrolean varieties affects the distribution of pronouns in the Linksversetzung construction: while in German D-pronouns do not exhibit any restrictions correlated with the nature of the fronted XP, in the two Tyrolean varieties the two forms have clearly specialized for different types of fronted XPs.
The distribution of the two classes of pronouns is not identical in Meranese and Mòcheno, which indicates that microvariation is also found within the two Tyrolean varieties considered. In Meranese, the distribution of the two forms is fed by definiteness and information structure: while D-pronouns and D+sèll pronouns can co-occur in most contexts, definite and focused (modified) XPs are more likely to be doubled by D+sèll forms only, whereas the less definite a fronted DP is, the more likely it is to be doubled by a D-pronoun. Moreover, subject antecedents favor the presence of D-forms, which, along with the grammaticality of the Linksversetzung construction with indefinite XPs, represents a key asymmetry with German (cf. Portele and Bader 2016).
In Mòcheno, on the other hand, D+sèll pronouns are compatible with all classes of considered DPs, whereas D-forms can only double fronted proper names functioning as the syntactic subject.
We have accounted for this case of microvariation within Tyrolean by showing that D-pronouns in Mòcheno are weak forms in the sense of Cardinaletti and Starke (1999), which immediately explains why they are incompatible with prepositions (and cannot thus express the indirect object). Moreover, in Mòcheno, D-pronouns are only found with the nominative case, i.e., with syntactic subjects, functioning as doubling elements of an Aboutness topic. We have suggested that this class of pronouns is developing into clitic pronouns, showing that Mòcheno exhibits a rather restricted pattern of subject doubling, since only proper names can optionally be doubled. This pattern is identical to that reported for Venetian by Poletto (2000) and divergent from that of neighboring Trentino varieties, which speaks against the idea that the special development of D-forms in Mòcheno is a direct effect of contact with Romance. By taking a closer look at Meranese, we have shown that the development observed in Mòcheno is very likely to be an autonomous development due to isolation, leading to its extreme consequences a tendency already present in Meranese. In fact, in this variety, D-pronouns exhibit both strong (as in present-day German) and, to a lesser extent, weak forms (as in Mòcheno). Crucially, D-forms (in all forms of the paradigm) are always weak when they double proper names. This piece of data indicates that, while D+sèll forms are consistently strong in both languages, D-pronouns tend to develop into weak forms starting from sentences involving a fronted proper name. The difference between Meranese and Mòcheno lies in the fact that Mòcheno has brought this tendency to its extreme consequences, i.e., D-pronouns are marginal in the system and D+sèll pronouns appear in all considered contexts with the exception of sentences with a proper name, whereas in Meranese, D-pronouns exhibit both weak and strong forms, with the former being specialized for the resumption of proper names, as in Mòcheno.

Author Contributions

The paper is the result of joint work of the authors in all of its parts. In particular, both authors contributed to the conceptualization, the methodology, the formal analysis, the investigation, the presentation of data review, editing and the writing. In addition, F.C. is responsible for supervision. For the concerns of the Italian academy, J.C. takes responsibility for Section 2, Section 3 and Section 6 and Federica Cognola for Section 1, Section 4 and Section 5. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


The part of research carried out by Jan Casalicchio has received funding from the Italian ministry of University and Research (Ministero dell’Università e della Ricerca (PON Ricerca e Innovazione 2014–2020, AIM 1809459).

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study. The judgments on Meranese come from one of the authors’ own intuitions.

Data Availability Statement

Data available from the authors upon request.


We thank our Mòcheno informant for his help in the collection of the Mòcheno data discussed in this paper, and two anonymous reviewers for providing valuable suggestions which allowed us to improve the paper in several respects. We also express our gratitute to the editors of this special issue, Cecilia Poletto and Tommaso Balsemin, for having involved us in their project.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interests.


Following Alber (2013) and Casalicchio and Cognola (2023), both the Meranese and the Mòcheno examples are transcribed according to the official Mòcheno orthography (Meranese has no official transcription system). The transcription of phonemes mainly follows the rules of German, but with a higher degree of univocity (e.g., [ʃ] is always transcribed as <sch>). Accent on vowels is used to represent an open vowel: è corresponds to [ε]; ò corresponds to [ɔ]. As for vowel quantity, short vowels in stressed syllables are represented by the doubling of the subsequent consonant, while long vowels are never marked (cf. Meranese vissn [vɪsṇ], ‘to know’ vs. visn [vi:sṇ], ‘meadows’).
An anonymous reviewer suggests that D-pronouns and D+sèll forms could be article forms, given that most German dialects have two article paradigms: full and reduced articles (cf. Bavarian dea vs. da, “the”) and the full form also serves as a demonstrative pronoun (Weiß and Dirani 2019 and also Schmuck 2020 for an overview on Germanic). The reviewer also notes that in a few dialects, the full forms seem to have been lost and replaced by the construction “determiner + do, i.e., “here” or “sell + noun”, as in Saurean (cf. Weiß 2022). While we definitely agree with the reviewer that der could also be an article form which possibly developed into a demonstrative pronoun, we do not see evidence for Meranese nor Mòcheno that D-pronouns and D+sèll forms could instantiate a reduced and a full article form, respectively. In Mòcheno, sèll cannot be used as an article (*sèll mònn) and the form der sèll mònn can exclusively be interpreted as involving the demonstrative: “that man”. The same also holds for D-forms and D+sèll in Meranese, in which, however, there is evidence in favor of a connection between the article forms and the demonstrative forms, cf. footnote 5 below.
In this paper, we use the label “D-pronouns” for the Tyrolean forms in a purely descriptive way, since D-pronouns only superficially/formally (and not functionally/syntactically) pattern with the class of German D-pronouns in the Tyrolean varieties considered.
Portele and Bader (2016) discuss more properties connected to accessibility, which, however, seem to play a more limited role in favoring the presence of a D-pronoun and are also less central to the Tyrolean data to be discussed in this paper.
Note that, when used as a D-pronoun, dèr features the vowel [ε], whereas in the D+sèll forms, the vowel e in der corresponds to schwa: dǝr. This asymmetry in the vowel sounds in the two forms is very revealing about the source of der in the combined form. As discussed in footnote 2, an anonymous reviewer suggested that D-forms might be derived from the article. Interestingly, in Meranese, the article also features a schwa—dǝr Mario—and is incompatible with [ε], which might indicate a source from the article only for the D+sèll forms. We leave this issue open for further research, also noticing that the pronominal D-form der appearing in relative clauses exhibits a third different pattern featuring the vowel [e].
There are other contexts (for instance, those involving a fronted scene-setter adverbial or adverbial clause) and constructions (such as the “hanging topic”) in which V3 word orders are attested in German varieties (cf. Casalicchio and Cognola 2023 and De Clercq et al. 2023 for a recent discussion). We leave these contexts aside.
If the fronted XP did not bear case, the construction would be analyzed as a “hanging topic”.
Note that there might be an asymmetry between yes/no and wh-questions in German varieties here. An anonymous reviewer finds that, in her/his German, a D-pronoun might not appear within the clause, but only preverbally, in a yes/no interrogative clause:
SeinenHundj,denjdarfmandochwohl mitbringen?
ones. accdogthat.acccanonepartpart bring
One is surely allowed to bring their own dog with him?
Since this issue is not central to our paper, we leave it open for further research.
In this model, the linke Satzklammer can also host complementizers introducing an embedded clause, thus forcing the finite verb to remain in the rechte Satzklammer (leading to OV word order). We do not discuss this issue here because we focus on main clauses.
We assume here that German exhibits an IP layer, cf. (Haider 2010) for discussion.
We consider here the variety spoken by a middle-aged speaker from the village of Palù/Palai.
Rowley (2021, p. 46), citing Kranzmayer (1963, p. 162), claims that Mòcheno is to be considered as a canonical Tyrolean dialect exhibiting conservative traits, since its phonetic system resembles that of the most innovative Tyrolean varieties of 1300, i.e., the variety spoken in Merano.
In polar interrogatives and imperatives, on the other hand, we find V1 as in Standard German.
Note that, as seems to be the case in (nearly) all High German dialects, no form related to German dieser, ‘this’, exists in these two varieties. In Meranese, the only proximal demonstrative is dèr, and in many cases, dèr can be reinforced with the locative adverb do (der mònn do, ‘this man’). In Mòcheno, the proximal demonstrative is always der doi (der doi mònn, “this man”, Rowley [2003] 2017, p. 156), which can be reinforced with the adverb do: i pin der jingest van doin hèrrn do (“I am the youngest among these men here”, Rowley [2003] 2017, p. 156).
Franz Lanthaler, p.c.
Meranese also has a reinforced form: der mònn sèmm or der sèll mònn sèmm, ‘that man’ (lit. ‘that man there’).
We do not further discuss these forms because they never occur as resumptive elements.
In some varieties, especially in those spoken in the villages outside the town of Merano, sèll can also be inflected in the accusative: n sènn pam ‘this.acc tree’.
Note that all judgements are given for the unmarked form, in which the fronted argument is not a focus. We discuss fronting of focused arguments in Section 5.
Note that the definite common nouns appearing in the examples discussed in this section are preceded by the demonstrative form dèr and not by the article form der because this context favors the demonstrative interpretation of der. Note that in the other two contexts, i.e., with proper names ( and indefinite nouns (, the article form der precedes the noun. This asymmetry in the interpretation of the two forms across contexts does not seem to play any significant role in favoring a pronominal form over the other, i.e., D-pronouns are not favored when the article form is interpreted as a demonstrative.
Prominency might also play a role, but for the case of the Linksversetzung construction examined in this paper, its role cannot be investigated, given that the fronted XP and its resumptive pronoun are adjacent.
In Meranese, personal pronouns cannot be resumed with D+sèll, nor with dèr. When a personal pronoun is left-dislocated, it is possible to resume it with a second, identical personal pronoun. Since it is unclear whether such cases constitute a genuine case of left dislocation, we leave this topic aside for future research.
Whether this depends on the fact that dative marked DPs possess an extra structural layer—a KP (cf. Bader et al. 2000), as suggested by an anonymous reviewer—cannot be addressed in this paper.
Mòcheno also exhibits another asymmetry between main and embedded clauses in the distribution of subjects, like in Old Romance, cf. Cognola (2014).
The only exception are parents’ names, like, “de mama”, the mum, which behave like proper names.
As pointed out by an anonymous reviewer, the presence of a personal pronoun in (53c) resembles resumptive pronouns of Alemannic relative clauses, cf. Fleischer (2003, 2005) and Trutkowski and Weiß (2016). This is surely a good observation, since Mòcheno does not form relative clauses with D-pronouns, like in standard German, but uses the complementizer as “that” (cf. Rowley [2003] 2017, p. 192, on Mòcheno, and Weise (1917, p. 71) and Fleischer (2005, p. 182) for this relatively uncommon typology of relative clause type across German dialects). When the relative clause modifies an indirect object, the complementizer as co-occurs with a dative pronoun in the relative clause, cf. the following example from (Cognola and Molinari 2019, p. 135):
(i)S kinnas e en a puach gem hònhoast Felix
the child that I a book given have called Felix
‘The name of the child whom I gave a book is Felix.’
Note, that the pronominal system of Mòcheno differs from that of German dialects (cf. Weiß 2015; Poletto and Tomaselli 1995; Cardinaletti 1999). Starting out from the observation that German dialects distinguish between two, and not three, pronominal forms, Weiß (2015) proposes a modification of Cardinaletti and Starke’s (1999) system distinguishing between strong and weak uses on the one hand and between full, reduced, clitic, and zero forms on the other. Weiß (2015, p. 80ff) shows that Bavarian dialects distinguish between clitic and non-clitic forms: syntactically, clitic pronouns are restricted to the Wackernagelposition (after the finite verb in XV contexts and cliticized to the complementizer), whereas the other forms are possible in the CP and after the finite verb. Hessian exhibits full and reduced forms: syntactically reduced forms are possible both in Spec,CP and in the Wackernagelposition. Null subjects (pro) are also possible in German dialects, especially in the second person singular (and to a lesser extent plural) in interrogative clauses. Weiß (2015, p. 84ff) thus proposes that the distinction between strong and weak pronouns is key to the distribution of pronouns in German dialects and that weak pronouns can appear in the form of (i) reduced (compatible with the Wackernagelposition and with CP); (ii) clitic (Wackernagelposition only); and (iii) pro. For Mòcheno subject pronouns, especially for third person forms, Weiß’ (2015) classification does not seem to be applicable, in the first place because there exists a tripartite system (cf. Cognola 2013b, 80ff). Within this tripartite system, clitic forms are restricted to the Wackernagelposition, as in Bavarian dialects; strong forms can only appear in the left periphery (independently of stress) and weak pronouns are also restricted to the CP position. The behavior of Mòcheno strong and weak forms is thus not in line with what has been documented for German dialects by Weiß (2015). In Bavarian, unstressed strong pronouns can appear in the Wackernagelposition (Weiß 2015, p. 80), which is ruled out in Mòcheno; unstressed strong and weak pronouns are only compatible with the sentence-internal position (Cognola 2013b, p. 102ff). Therefore, Mòcheno differs from German dialects in two key properties: (i) it exhibits a tripartite system of subject pronoun forms and (ii) it lacks reduced forms, i.e., phonetically/morphologically reduced forms compatible (but not restricted to) the Wackernagelposition. These two differences point in the direction of a structural asymmetry between pronouns in German dialects and Mòcheno and corroborate the theoretical analysis given in this paper.
As correctly noted by an anonymous reviewer, SubjP appears to be a mixed A/A’-position, since it hosts the subject of predication and a subject pronoun. Note that the proposed account allows us to make sense of the fact that D-subject pronouns are ruled out from interrogative clauses and sentences with a fronted topic. In Cognola (2013a, 2013b, and further work) it is shown that topics and operators are moved to the left periphery via Spec,SubjP; given that Spec,SubjP hosts D-forms, they are ruled out when the position is saturated by an XP moved first in the derivation. The whole account relies on the fact that no subject pronominal form can be hosted in the TP/IP layer in Mòcheno, i.e., the Spec,TP/IP position is ruled out for subject pronouns (cf. Cognola 2013a, 2013b).
With “subject of predication”, we refer to “the argument which the predication is about” (Bentley and Cruschina 2018, p. 5) and which is hosted in the left periphery, whereas with “syntactic subject” we refer to the argument with which the finite verb agrees in person and number. Cardinaletti (2004) and Rizzi (2005, 2006) propose that the two subject types are encoded syntactically in two separate FPs: SubjP, hosting the subject of predication, and AgrSP/TP, hosting the syntactic subject. The same can be assumed to also hold for Mòcheno, where, however, the finite verb must move to Subj° due to the EPP feature responsible for V2.
An anonymous reviewer notes that in German and German dialects, clitic pronouns appear in the Wackernagelposition, irrespective of being a subject or an object clitic, and wonders what the function of a special FP, i.e., SubjP, in Mòcheno is. Cognola (2013b, chapter 3) proposes that Mòcheno enclitic pronouns are found in the area between TP and CP, which corresponds to the Wackernagelposition of German and should be understood as a field hosting different positions specialized for clitics (cf. also Bidese 2008; Tomaselli 2010). Among the positions for clitics in this area, SubjP has a special status, since it is the FP whose head is endowed with the EPP feature responsible for the V2 rule in Mòcheno. This implies that V2 involves the movement of the finite verb to the head of Subj° and of an XP to (or through) Spec,SubjP in all main clauses. When a non-subject is moved to Spec,SubjP, the syntactic subject must be realized by a subject clitic enclitic to the finite verb; if the fronted non-subject XP is merged in the left periphery, Spec,SubjP is available for a subject pronoun. Cognola’s (2013b) approach accounts for the fact that V2 and the expression of the syntactic subject are two sides of the same coin in Mòcheno, and are fed by the fact that the EPP feature is associated with a lower head of the left periphery in contrast to German, in which a higher head (Force°) is endowed with the EPP feature responsible for V2 (cf. Truckenbrodt 2006; Holmberg 2015; Benincà 2006; Poletto 2002).
An anonymous reviewer wonders whether left-dislocated topics are moved or base-generated in Mòcheno. As discussed in Cognola (2013a), Cognola (2019), and Casalicchio and Cognola (2020), there is plenty of evidence that topics in Mòcheno (as in Rhaeto-Romance) are moved to (and not merged in) the left periphery and that this movement is subject to the latest version of Relativized Minimality in terms of features (Rizzi 2004 and further work). From the analysis in terms of Relativized Minimality, the distribution of “bottle-neck” effects in CP is also accounted for: bottleneck effects are only found when a constituent is moved over another constituent with the same featural makeup, whereas movement is always allowed when the featural makeup of the XPs to be fronted differs. For the examples involving Linksversetzung, we propose that the pronoun is merged (D-forms: cf. Cognola 2013b for the evidence that D-forms are not moved to the IP layer but are merged directly in Spec,SubjP) or moved (der sèll forms) first in the derivation to Spec,SubjP (where it satisfies the EPP feature responsible for V2); once the EPP feature has been satifisfed, an XP can be moved to Spec,FocusP or Spec,TopicP, in order to receive a marked discourse interpretation. No bottleneck effects are found because the pronoun in Spec,SubjP and the preceding constituent do not share the same featural makeup.
We remain agnostic with respect to the issue of whether the facts we have documented in this paper are to be analyzed as an innovation within Tyrolean varieties or whether they reflect a conservative trait.


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Figure 1. The map of Northern Italy is available at Wikicommons (; The map of the region Trentino-Alto Adige is a modified (by the authors) version of the map available at Wikicommons (
Figure 1. The map of Northern Italy is available at Wikicommons (; The map of the region Trentino-Alto Adige is a modified (by the authors) version of the map available at Wikicommons (
Languages 08 00091 g001
Table 1. The dative forms of the proximal and distal demonstrative.
Table 1. The dative forms of the proximal and distal demonstrative.
Masculine sg.Feminine sg.Neuter sg.Plural
proximal dèrdèmin dèr (dèr)dèmin dé
distal der sèllim sèll/in sèmmder sèll/in der sèllim sèll/in sèmmin di sèll
Table 2. The grammaticality of dèr and D+sèll with different types of resumed arguments.
Table 2. The grammaticality of dèr and D+sèll with different types of resumed arguments.
Type of ArgumentdèrD+sèll
Proper nameunmodified subjectokok
modified subject??/*ok
unmodified object*ok
modified object??ok
unmodified ind. object??ok
modified ind. object*ok
Definite common noununmodified subjectok*
modified subjectokok
unmodified objectok??
modified objectok?
unmodified ind. objectok?
modified ind. objectokok
Indefinite common noununmodified subjectok*
modified subjectok?
unmodified objectok*
modified objectok*
unmodified ind. objectok?
modified ind. objectokok
Table 3. Case system in present-day Mòcheno. F = Fierozzo variety; P = Palù variety; R = Roveda variety.
Table 3. Case system in present-day Mòcheno. F = Fierozzo variety; P = Palù variety; R = Roveda variety.
Nom.der mònn “the man”de mama, “the mum”s pett, “the bed”de kia, “the cows”
Acc.der mònn (F+P)
en mònn (R)
de mamas pettde kia
Dat.en mònnen de (F+P)/
der (R) mama
en petten de kia
Table 4. Demonstrative forms in Mòcheno.
Table 4. Demonstrative forms in Mòcheno.
Masc. SingularFem. SingularNeuterPluralTranslation
der doide dois doide dointhis (one)
der sèllde sèlls sèll de sèllnthat (one)/those (ones)
Table 5. The grammaticality of dèr and D+sèll with different types of resumed arguments in Mòcheno.
Table 5. The grammaticality of dèr and D+sèll with different types of resumed arguments in Mòcheno.
Type of ArgumentdèrD+sèll
Proper nameunmodified subjectokok
modified subjectokok
unmodified object*ok
modified object*ok
unmodified ind. object*ok
modified ind. object*ok
Definite common noununmodified subject*ok
modified subject*ok
unmodified object*ok
modified object*ok
unmodified ind. object*ok
modified ind. object*ok
Indefinite common noununmodified subject*ok
modified subject*ok
unmodified object*ok
modified object*ok
unmodified ind. object*ok
modified ind. object*ok
Table 6. Overview of D+sèll forms in the Linksversetzung in Meranese and Mòcheno.
Table 6. Overview of D+sèll forms in the Linksversetzung in Meranese and Mòcheno.
Morphological FormsContexts
NomAccDatAll NP antecedentsFocalization/topicalization
Table 7. Overview of D-pronouns in the Linksversetzung in Meranese and Mòcheno.
Table 7. Overview of D-pronouns in the Linksversetzung in Meranese and Mòcheno.
Morphological FormsFocusStatus
Proper name*weak
Definite NPstrong
Indefinite NPstrong
Proper name***weak
Definite NP****weak
Indefinite NP****weak
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Cognola, F.; Casalicchio, J. Microvariation in the Distribution of Resumptive Pronouns in the Left Dislocation Construction in Two Tyrolean Dialects of Northern Italy. Languages 2023, 8, 91.

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Cognola F, Casalicchio J. Microvariation in the Distribution of Resumptive Pronouns in the Left Dislocation Construction in Two Tyrolean Dialects of Northern Italy. Languages. 2023; 8(2):91.

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Cognola, Federica, and Jan Casalicchio. 2023. "Microvariation in the Distribution of Resumptive Pronouns in the Left Dislocation Construction in Two Tyrolean Dialects of Northern Italy" Languages 8, no. 2: 91.

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