Presentatives in Italian and English


Raffaella Zanuttini

Yale University


Many languages exhibit “presentatives”, sentences with a unique sentential form associated

with the function of bringing an entity (or set of entities, or an event) to the attention of an interlocutor

(or “presentee”):


(1)    a. Here’s a slice of pizza (all speakers of American English)

        b. Ecco una fetta di pizza. (Italian)


The “presentee” may be overtly realized as a weak pronoun, as in (2), and is typically restricted to

2nd person:


(2)    a. Here’s you a slice of pizza. (some speakers of Southern American English)

        b. Eccoti una fetta di pizza.

             ecco-you a slice of pizza (Italian)

        ‘Here’s a slice of pizza for you.’


These sentences have received relatively little scrutiny and yet are particularly interesting for a

variety of reasons, especially in light of recent discussions on the nature of datives pronouns and

the representation of speaker and addressee in the syntax.


In this talk, I will discuss presentatives focusing on Italian and English, and offer the beginning

of an analysis of their syntactic structure, highlighting their similarities with locative and existential

sentences and the need to better understand their connection to the notion of speaker and hearer.