Vol. 9 (2023)

The “Return” of Southern Italo-Romance Tonna: From Pseudocoordination to Adverb. A Case Study in Grammaticalization

Sara N. Cardullo
University of Cambridge

Published 2023-09-30


  • Grammaticalization,
  • Left Adjunction,
  • Pseudocoordination,
  • Repetitive Aspect,
  • Southern Italian Dialects

How to Cite

Cardullo, S. N. (2023). The “Return” of Southern Italo-Romance Tonna: From Pseudocoordination to Adverb. A Case Study in Grammaticalization. Quaderni Di Linguistica E Studi Orientali, 9, 11–28. Retrieved from https://oaj.fupress.net/index.php/bsfm-qulso/article/view/15165


The present work constitutes an initial look at the use of tonna, an invariable form of tornare ‘return’, used as a relatively uncommon V1 in southern Italo-Romance pseudocoordination structures. Along with losing its ability to inflect, grammaticalization of tornare, frequent across Italo-Romance, has consisted in its shift from lexical motion verb to a functional one with repetitive aspectual value, i.e. tonna mmanciu ‘I eat again’. This paper presents novel data from the variety of Eolian (Italo-Romance dialect of the Eolian Islands), which shows constructions previously unattested with invariable V1s, such as its embedding under functional verbs in non-finite clauses. A cartographic approach building on existing accounts of pseudocoordination V1s – centered on Cinque’s (1999, 2006) hierarchy of functional projections – leads us to consider two overarching explanations for tonna: that it is (a) a functional, aspectual head (in one of the two “repetitive” projections, viz. AspRepetitive(I), AspRepetitive(II)) or (b) an adverb, a specifier in these respective projections. Ultimately, the conclusion that it has (re)grammaticalized to the point of becoming a (deficient) adverb in the lower AspRepetitive(II) proves to be the most convincing from a theoretical perspective. A potential structural consequence is the syncretic status of the AspRepetitive(II) head.