Knock! Knock! Who's there?

Seth Jerchower, Ph.D. sejerchower at JTSA.EDU
Mon Nov 16 19:42:54 UTC 1998

Data for Italo-Romance:

With regards to the first query, the typical interrogative construction (we
can, of course respond with imperatives "come in", or even pro/verb-drop
adverbs such as "avanti") consists of the wh- pronoun + copula:

1.	Chi è?
	"WH Who COP is?" (Who is it?)

(The Sicilian form of this is "Cu fu", where "fu", which is the past
perfect –"passato remoto"– of "essere" in Italian, has shifted in both tense
and aspect; write to me for references on this).

The other syntagma is:
2.	Chi c'è?
	"WH Who LOC there COP is" (Who's there?).

Not incorrect, but with a varying "sfumatura", and rather jocular is the
antiqueated and militaresque "WH Chi V va LOC là?" (Who goes there? affine
to English usage).
Syntagmata of the type *"Chi", that is of WH -[COP] are not applicable

As to the second query, in Italian syntagmata of the form "Sono studente",
with pro-drop, are not at all unusual, as also (if I'm not mistaken, please
correct if to contrary) for Ibero-Romance (Soy estudiente), and of course,
Latin "Sum alumnus/Alumnus sum".  One may argue in the case of participle
forms such as "studente" that the participle may be an extension of the verb
phrase, but more complex declarative phrases, in which a 3rd non present
referent is employed, such as "È un bel ragazzo" (COP ART ADJ N).

Best, SJ

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