Matrix complementisers and ‘speech act’ syntax: Formalising insubordination in Catalan and Spanish

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This paper discusses apparent cases of Catalan and Spanish non-embedded clauses headed by the subordinating complementiser que ‘that’, sometimes referred to in the literature as cases of insubordination (Evans 2007, 2009). Three interpretatively distinct types of ‘insubordinate’ que are identified, but only one of these types, viz. quotative que, is shown to be formally identical to the subordinating complementiser. The other two types, viz. exclamative and conjunctive que, exhibit the formal behaviour of speech acts, following Krifka’s (2001, 2003) diagnostics. It is argued that, from a cartographic approach, the three types of ‘insubordinate’ que cannot be accommodated within the split CP, and that, given their formal properties, exclamative and conjunctive que are instead operative within an articulated layer above Force dedicated to encoding ‘speech act’ syntax, a domain argued for in Speas & Tenny (2003), Haegeman & Hill (2014), Haegeman (2014).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRomance Languages and Linguistic Theory
Subtitle of host publicationSelected papers from ‘Going Romance’ 29, Nijmegen
EditorsJanine Berns, Haike Jacobs, Dominique Nouveau
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)9789027264152
ISBN (Print)978-9027200655, 9027200653
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2018


  • Romance linguistics
  • Theoretical linguistics


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