The relative order of foci and polarity complementizers A Slavic perspective

Elena Callegari*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


According to Rizzi & Bocci's (2017) suggested hierarchy of the left periphery, fronted foci (FOC) can never precede polarity complementizers (PolC); yet languages like Bulgarian and Macedonian appear to display precisely such an ordering configuration. On the basis of a cross-linguistic comparison of ten Slavic languages, I argue that in the Slavic subgroup the possibility of having a focus precede PolC is dependent on the morphological properties of the complementizer itself: in languages where the order FOC < PolC is acceptable, PolC is a complex morpheme derived through the incorporation of a lower functional head with a higher one. The order FOC < PolC is then derived by giving overt spell-out to the intermediate copy of PolC rather than to the topmost one. In turn, this option is linked to the possibility, recorded in all languages which allow for FOC < PolC, to also realize the morpheme expressing interrogative polarity as an enclitic particle attaching to fronted foci.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-122
Number of pages45
JournalLinguistic Variation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Other keywords

  • Complementizers
  • Fronted foci
  • Left periphery
  • Polarity questions
  • Slavic
  • Word order


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