On the setting of scales in the diachrony of DOM

  • Monica Alexandrina Irimia Univeristy of Modena and Reggio Emilia
  • Anna Pineda


The focus of this paper is a generally ignored counterexample to animacy/person scales (Hale 1972, Silverstein 1976, Aissen 2003, a.o.), which are often assumed to be universal (Kiparsky 2008, a.o.). Drawing from Old Romance differential object marking data, we analyze a scale reversal setting in Old Catalan and Old Romanian. The puzzle is that 3rd person pronouns surface with differential object marking to the exclusion of 1st and 2nd persons, contrary to what the scales would predict. We propose to derive these patterns by examining i) micro-parameters in the composition of Romance DPs and pronouns; ii) the presence of more than one licensing strategy for arguments. The scale reversal results from the introduction of a novel argument licensing strategy based on animacy in languages where an older strategy for 1st/ 2nd persons was still active.