Interpolation, verb-second, and the low left periphery in Old Spanish


  • Geoffrey Poole Newcastle University


interpolation, Old Spanish, focus, G-Topic, information structure, Formal Movement, verb-second


Interpolation is a phenomenon of a number of (chiefly Medieval) Romance varieties in which direct and indirect object pronouns may be separated from the finite verb by elements such as negation, adverbs, subjects and prepositional phrases. This paper considers both their information structure and syntax using data from the Corpus del Español (Davies 2002-). I first argue that, contra a number of analyses, interpolation is not a process of focalization. Rather, many interpolated elements are a G-Topic in the sense of Bianchi & Frascarelli (2010); in other words, a familiar or given topic. This information structure account suggests that interpolation targets a functional category in the low left periphery, and this is confirmed by a number of distributional facts: interpolation appears to target a position lower than various high topic positions, but higher than the TP domain. However, some interpolated elements (particularly sentential negation) are less plausibly analysed as topics, and I suggest that these elements are positioned in the low left periphery by ‘Formal Movement’ (Frey 2004, 2006), a semantically and pragmatically vacuous operation which attracts the element at the left edge of the TP domain in order to satisfy a verb-second requirement. 


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How to Cite

Poole, G. (2014). Interpolation, verb-second, and the low left periphery in Old Spanish. IBERIA: An International Journal of Theoretical Linguistics, 5(1), 69–98. Retrieved from