The Old Sardinian quantifier tot(t)u ‘all’

(Lack of) agreement and a universal numeric quantifier construction


  • Guido Mensching Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Seminar für Romanische Philologie



agreement, numerals, universal quantifiers, Old Sardinian


This article focusses on the syntax of the universal quantifier tot(t)u ‘all’ in Old Sardinian. A peculiar aspect of this quantifier is that agreement with the NP over which it quantifies was optional in Old Sardinian, with one striking exception: whenever tottu was used together with a numeral (like in English ‘all four brothers’), non-agreeing tottu appears to have been obligatory. The aim of the article is to provide a syntactic analysis within the Minimalist Program (Chomsky 2000 et seqq.) that can account for these facts. After an outline of the basic properties of Old Sardinian adnominal tottu, the broader typological state of research on combinations of universal quantifiers and numerals is discussed. In particular, it is shown that the Sardinian word order pattern is an instance of what Cirillo (2009) has called ‘universal numeric quantifiers’. The main part of the article is dedicated to the analysis of the Old Sardinian construction within Chomsky’s (2001 et seqq.) probe-and-goal framework. The main line of argumentation is that tottu is merged adjacent to the numeral in a low position within the DP (roughly following Corver 2010) and must be attracted to a QP above the DP. This attraction depends on a phi-probe in the Q head, so tottu must enter the derivation with phi-features.