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The syntax of peripheral adverbial clauses

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 January 2022

Department of Translation, Interpreting, and Communication, Ghent University, Groot-Brittanniëlaan 45, 9000Gent,
Department of Linguistics, Ghent University & University of Geneva, Blandijnberg 2, 9000Gent,


This paper explores the relation between the interpretations of while in English and mentre in Italian introducing adverbial clauses. Central while/mentre clauses express a temporal/aspectual modification of the proposition in the host clause. Peripheral while/mentre clauses make accessible a proposition from the discourse context enhancing the relevance of the host proposition. In one approach, clauses introduced by adversative while/mentre are analyzed as ‘less integrated’ with the associated clause than those introduced by temporal while/mentre. In another approach, adverbial clauses introduced by adversative while/mentre are considered not syntactically integrated with the host clause. This paper re-examines the nature of the syntactic integration of the adverbial clauses with the host clause, revealing a parallelism between the adversative peripheral while/mentre clauses and speaker-related sentential adverbs, leading to the conclusion that the non-integration analysis is not appropriate for this type of peripheral clauses and that any analysis must be aligned with that of the relevant non-clausal adverbials, supporting Frey (2018, 2020a, b). We also argue that central adverbial clauses recycled as speech event modifiers must be considered non-integrated. Concretely, we propose that they are integrated in discourse, through a specialized layer FrameP (Haegeman & Greco 2018).

Research Article
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press

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We thank three anonymous Journal of Linguistics referees for their generous and extremely helpful and constructive comments, which have greatly improved our paper. Obviously, they cannot be held responsible for the outcome. Thanks to Gaetano Fiorin and Andrew Radford for comments on the paper and to Manuela Schönenberger for her comments on Section 5.



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