Referentiality in Spanish CPs

Carlos de Cuba, Jonathan Eric MacDonald

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this paper, we discuss the CP domain of embedded clauses in Spanish, specifically in the realm of que+embedded question constructions first discussed in Plann (1982). We argue for the existence of (at least) two distinct CP layers (following previous work by Lahiri 2002, Demonte & Fernández-Soriano 2009, and Suñer 1991, 1993). Following Suñer (1991, 1993), we argue that there are two semantically distinct classes of embedded clauses, although we depart from her by claiming that the relevant distinction should be formulated in terms of referentiality. We claim that her ‘true indirect questions’ are just one case of a non-referential embedded CP (another being a non-referential sentential complement to a non-factive verb). Moreover, we provide evidence that this difference in referentiality corresponds to a structural difference as well: embedded referential CPs have less structure than non-referential embedded CPs. We also offer a classification of embedded clauses based on the presence or absence of an extra CP layer (cP) and the presence or absence of a question operator. Finally, we suggest that the overt spell-out of the non-referential head in Spanish embedded clauses is conditioned by the presence of a particular speech-act operator. Keywords: Spanish; indirect questions; factive and non-factive complements; referentiality; CP layers
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInformation Structure and Agreement
EditorsVictoria Camacho-Taboada, Ángel L Jiménez-Fernández, Javier Martin-González, Mariano Reyes-Tejedor
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
ISBN (Electronic)9789027273024
ISBN (Print)9789027255808
StatePublished - 2013

Publication series

NameLinguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today


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