Morphosyntactic Reorganization Phenomena in Arbëresh Dialects: The Neuter

Benedetta Baldi, Lenardo M. Savoia


Italo-Albanian communities show different degrees of mixing between Arbëresh, the local Albanian dialect, and the Romance variety in contact. In some Arbëresh dialects the mixing is extensive, affecting lexicon, morpho-syntax and phonology. Contact and bilingualism favour changes in the internal organization of the grammar, as generally in the creolization processes (Savoia 2010; Manzini and Savoia 2015; Baldi and Savoia 2016). This contribution addresses the so-called neuter inflection that Arbëresh dialects spoken in Southern Italian communities preserve, an inflection no longer surviving in standard and other varieties of Albanian, where masculine morphology has replaced it. The coincidence between the specialized -t neuter inflection in nominative and accusative and the plural inflection -t characterizing North-Calabrian Arbëresh led Manzini and Savoia (2017a, 2017b, forthcoming) to connect this morphology with the interpretive properties associated to mass denotation. We hold on to this proposal that has the merit to explain the relation between plural and mass properties. In North-Lucanian and Apulian Arbëresh systems this sub-set of nouns, while maintaining the inflection -t, agrees in feminine. This result can be understood as a consequence of the reorganization that affected these partially mixed grammars, where the original morpho-syntactic mechanisms have been lost or modified


agreement; internal reorganization of grammar; Italo-Albanian; neuter

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