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Linguistic Inquiry

Summer 2006, Vol. 37, No. 3, Pages 484-501
(doi: 10.1162/ling.2006.37.3.484)
© 2006 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Clitic Climbing and the Dual Status of Sembrare
Article PDF (106.49 KB)

For some speakers of Italian (reported in Cinque 2004), Italian sembrare ‘seem’ has dual status. On the one hand, it is a lexical verb, with an experiencer argument; on the other hand, it behaves like a “restructuring verb.” In the latter case, sembrare is incompatible with an experiencer argument and it allows clitic climbing. This article identifies several contexts in which clitic climbing is not possible with sembrare and offers an account in terms of Cinque's proposals about the functional hierarchy of the clause. The article also examines sembler, the French cognate of sembrare, and argues, contra Cinque 2002, that it behaves like a lexical verb. Finally, it shows that the two instantiations of Italian sembrare correspond to two verbs in Dutch: schijnen and lijken.