Middle Scrambling with Spatial Deictics in European Portuguese
João Costa (Universidade Nova de Lisboa) and Ana Maria Martins (Universidade de Lisboa)
Contemporary European Portuguese (EP) displays short-scrambling (Costa 1998) – like,
hypothetically, languages in general do (Takano 1998). Most Old Romance languages
allowed generalized middle scrambling, which came to be lost after the 16th century (Martins
2002, 2005). Modern Romance apparently contrasts with other Indoeuropean language
families (e.g. Germanic) in totally excluding middle scrambling. In this talk, we will show
that middle scrambling, understood as movement to Spec,IP (Chomsky 1994, Grewendorf &
Sabel 1999, among others) is in fact available in contemporary EP, but only spatial deictics
can scramble to the middle field (namely: aqui/cá ‘here’/+close to speaker; aí ‘there’/-close to
speaker, +close to addressee; ali/lá ‘there’/-close to speaker and addressee). For presentation
purposes, all the examples henceforth are built with the locative lá ‘there’.
1. Preverbal vs. postverbal lá
As first observed by Castro and Costa 2002, locatives like lá ‘there’ may occur in between the
subject and the verb in syntactic environments similar to those inducing proclisis in EP, but
are ruled out from that position in contexts typical of enclisis (see (1) vs. (2)). In (1) and
similar examples the element that would trigger proclisis if a clitic was present is underlined.
(1) a. Eu nunca/já estive lá. (I never/already there was) “I never/already was/went there”
b. Eu nunca/já lá estive. (I never/already there was) “I never/already was/went there”
(2) a. Eu estive lá. (I was there) “I was/went there”
b. *Eu lá estive. (I there was) “I was/went there”
In the contexts in which lá-preposing is allowed, lá ‘there’ is obligatorily adjacent to the verb:
(3) a. Ela diz que lá vai amanhã. (she says that there goes tomorrow) …that she will go there..
b. Ela diz que nunca/amanhã lá vai. (she says that never/tomorrow there goes)
c. *Ela diz que lá nunca vai. (she says that there never goes) ..that she never goes there..
d. *Ela diz que lá amanhã vai. (she says that there tomorrow goes) ..that she will go there..
Lá-preposing does not depend on the hypothetical head status of the locative, since PPs
including lá can also undergo preposing in the relevant contexts (cf. (3-4a)). It goes without
saying that in the absence of a proclisis trigger, preposing is impossible (cf. (3-4b).
(3) a. A Maria nunca para lá telefona. (Maria never to there calls) “Maria never calls there”
b. *A Maria para lá telefonou. (Maria to there called) “Maria called there”
(4) a. Todos de lá vieram doentes. (all from there came sick) “Everybody arrived sick”
b. *A Maria de lá veio doente. (Maria from there came sick) “Maria arrived sick”
2. lá-preposing as middle scrambling
We analyse lá-preposing as movement to Spec,TP, thus an instance of middle scrambling (cf.
Chomsky 1994, Grewendorf & Sabel 1999, Bailyn 2004, among others). Under this analysis,
two of the facts described above follow straightforwardly: (i) since the locative is in Spec,TP
and the verb is in T, the two must necessarily be adjacent; (ii) movement of the locative to a
specifier position predicts its XP status. We still will have to explain why (optional)
movement to Spec,TP is blocked in some contexts, specifically the same contexts were
proclisis is blocked and enclisis becomes obligatory.
Following work by Martins 2003, Costa and Martins 2003, we assume that in European
Portuguese, the functional polarity head Σ (Laka 1991, Martins 1994), which immediately
dominates TP, is licensed under merger with a head with phonological content, since it is
subject to a visibility constraint at PF. In proclitic environments, Σ is licensed by some
element syntactically merged in its domain or in a higher domain. In enclitic environments, Σ
merges with the verb via morphological merger, a post-syntactic process operating under
strict adjacency (Embick & Noyer 2001). Just like pronominal clitics, locatives moved to
Spec,TP block adjacency between the functional head Σ (with the feature [+ af]) and the verb.
Thus in contexts in which Σ is licensed post-syntactically through morphological merger with
the verb, that is, in typical enclitic contexts, the preposing of the locative yields
ungrammaticality (just like proclisis does), since it prevents the licensing of Σ. Examples (5)(6) make clear the parallelism between the obligatoriness of enclisis and the impossibility of
lá-preposing (in other respects clitic placement and lá placement are naturally different).
(5) a. A Maria telefonou-me. (Maria called me)
b. *A Maria me telefonou. (Maria me called)
(6) a. A Maria telefonou de lá. (Maria called from there)
b. *A Maria de lá telefonou. (Maria from there called)
As for the subject position, we assume that preverbal subjects occupy, in European
Portuguese, Spec,ΣP and not Spec,TP (Martins 1994, Costa and Martins 2003; Cf.
Cardinalletti 1997, 2004; and Alexiadou and Anagnostopoulou 1998, Bailyn 2004).
3. Further empirical evidence: restructuring and non-restructuring infinitives
Our proposal that lá-preposing (i.e. scrambling to Spec,TP) is only blocked when it would
prevent the licensing of the Σ-head makes a specific prediction: when the Σ-head is absent,
there are no restrictions to lá-preposing. Restructuring infinitives give us the means to check
this prediction because restructuring infinitives are functionally defective domains, not
including the polarity head Σ (Martins 1995, 2000) – hence they cannot host negation. We
thus expect that, within restructuring infinitives, lá-type locatives scramble freely while this is
not the case in non-restructuring infinitives. This prediction is borne out. So (7a) with the
restructuring verb querer (want) allows lá-preposing within the infinitival clause, in the
absence of a proclisis trigger, while (7b) with the non-restructuring verb lamentar (regret)
does not. Moreover, even with a verb like querer (which allows restructuring optionally), lápreposing is excluded if restructuring actually does not take place (see (7c) where the fact that
the clitic did not climb signals the absence of restructuring).
(7) a. Ela quer sempre lá ir. (she wants always there to go) “She always wants to go there”
b. *Eu lamento lá trabalhar. (I regret there to work) “I regret working there”
c. *Eu não quero lá encontrar-te amanhã. (I not want there meet you tomorrow)
The defectiveness of restructuring infinitives goes beyond the absence of the Σ-head and
higher functional structure. Gonçalves 1999 (among others) shows that T is also in some ways
defective in such infinitives. Thus they cannot contain negation, independent tense or clitics.
The defectiveness of restructuring infinitival T may explain why lá-type locatives, like clitics,
can “climb”, targeting Spec,TP of the finite clause (see 8a), although they do not have to (see
8b) since scrambling is optional. Extracting the locative from within a non-restructuring
infinitival is ruled out (see 9a-b) because long-distance scrambling is never an option in EP.
(8) a. Ela nunca lá quer ir. (she never there wants to go) “She never wants to go there”
b. Ela nunca quer ir lá. (she never wants to go there) “She never wants to go there”
(9) a. *Ela nunca lá lamentou trabalhar. (she never there regretted to work)
b. Ela nunca lamentou trabalhar lá. (she never regretted to work there)
4. lá-preposing and negation
We will further analyse negative sentences. Although the predicative negation marker (não
‘not’) is a proclisis trigger, it does not per se circumvent blocking of lá-preposing, which is
apparently unexpected under our analysis. We will explore the idea that não, like the verb,
adjoins to T in the syntax and merges with Σ post-syntactically (except when Σ is
independently licensed). As such, the preposed locative fatally blocks adjacency between
Σ[+neg] and não, just like in those cases in which Σ[+af] must merge with the verb.
5. A residual issue
At last, we will address in an exploratory manner the question of why only lá-type locatives
can undergo movement to Spec,TP – see (10). We will bear in mind both their hypothetical
nominal nature (Larson 1985 a.o.) and their “kinship” to tense through deixis (Levinson a.o.).
(10) O Pedro já para lá/*para Lisboa/*longe vai. (Pedro already to there/to Lisbon/far goes)

Middle Scrambling with Spatial Deictics in European Portuguese