We argue that preverbal and postverbal subject clitics in northern Italian dialects are the same lexical items. The different forms of proclitics and enclitics can be explained phonologically (i.e., by phonological constraints ranked in a particular order) and by the hypothesis that morphologically neutral vowels may be inserted in final position (what we call morphological epenthesis ). The distributional differences in the paradigm derive from a competition between overt clitics and null subjects that is resolved in an intricate way across sentence types and across dialects and that depends on the interaction of clitic and verb movement and on Minimize Structure.
Verbs can be introduced (merged) in either a lexical VP or a functional head, the latter position giving rise to restructuring contexts. We argue that there are two clitic positions in Italian “restructured” clauses: one associated with the (restructured) lexical verb and the other a clausal clitic position located in the functional domain. While restructuring can be recursive, clitics appear either on the restructured infinitive (no clitic climbing) or in the functional domain of the highest verb (full clitic climbing). There is no clitic climbing to an intermediate restructuring verb. We argue that only the lowest restructured verb makes a position for clitics available and that this position is the same as that of infinitive-final [e]. Finally, we show that the functional ∼ lexical dichotomy is too sharp and that a variety of verb classes must be admitted, whose properties correlate with the point in the structure in which they are merged.