From the examples taken from Wikipedia:

• Venetian: (Ti) te jèra onto or even Ti te jèri/xeri onto (lit. "(You) you were dirty").

• Venetian: El can el jèra onto (lit. "The dog he was dirty").

It is possible to see that Venetian uses lots of double pronouns. I wonder: where do they come from? What could possibly cause them to appear? And when are they used in Venetian specifically, what is this function?

  • 5
    I don't know their origin, but they are not exclusive to Venetian: other northern Italian languages have the same or a similar pattern. In Lombard, just as in your Venetian examples, the "first" pronoun is optional, the same way it would be in Italian or other pro-drop languages, but the "second" pronoun is required and basically a part of the verb. It doesn't happen in all persons, at least in Lombard, though: it happens most prominently in the 2nd person, almost as prominently in the 3rd, and sporadically but a bit differently in the 1st. In the plural, it happens in the 3rd person.
    – LjL
    Commented Jan 19, 2020 at 23:00
  • 3
    @vectory "je m'appèle" is a reflexive verb, and I don't understand what the relevance of "ich heisse" is. French does have a real analogy to this in sentences such as "moi, je m'appèle..." "le chien, il est sale"
    – b a
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 9:37
  • And I'm implying without putting to fine a point on it that the reflexive construction is distantly related, because of to dirty oneself, but if that's a red herring, perhaps it's a kind of apellative hey, you got dirt on your shoulder? Note that got for one carries passivizing semantics. ti is from dative tibi. Also cp Ger "Du, du hast da Dreck" vs "Der Hund da hat Dreck" ("the[re]"). Dunno if that helps.
    – vectory
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 10:25
  • Further "tu t'es sali", and some confusion about c'est or s'est. Note, I was implying you should ammend your question with other language examples or go to a specific language board, where people who don't always come here might know, and come back when you know more. You might as well cut to the chase and leave it open for now, of course.
    – vectory
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 10:34
  • I think the question is fine here, and I doubt there are many sites specific to Venetic or even generically Gallo-Italic languages. Parallels with French constructions (and probably even more so Occitan) are possible, but they haven't grammaticalized to the point of becoming an inherent part of verb conjugation in those languages. Also of note, these languages with redundant pronouns tend to coincide with the isogloss of "me" languages, i.e. Romance languages where subject pronouns are derived from Latin accusative or dative (me, te, mihi, tibi) instead of the nominative (ego, tu).
    – LjL
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 14:57

1 Answer 1


These are subject proclitic pronouns.

These do vary considerably across the Gallo-Romance branches, and it is hard to generalise. What is relatively well known is the correspondence between the clitics and their Latin origins. Taking Paduan / padovese as an example:

1S: null proclitic; enclitic = -i, from Latin EGO > ieo

2S: proclitic = te; enclitic = -to, from Latin TV > tu, te

3S-m: proclitic = el; enclitic = -lo from Latin ILLUS / ILLOS

3S-f: proclitic = la, enclitic = -la from Latin ILLA

1P: null proclitic; enclitic = -i, generalised from 1S

2P: null proclitic; enclitic = -u, from Latin VOS

3S-m: proclitic = i; enclitic = -li from Latin ILLI

3S-f: proclitic = le, enclitic = -le from Latin ILLAE

15th century Renaissance Venetian was a pro-drop language, although it retained the possibility to have a subject pronoun in embedded clauses too, in a way that e.g. Modern Italian doesn't need to:

Venetian: El me par che 'l sarave cossa giusta.

Gloss: It to-me seems that it be-COND thing right-FEM

English translation: It seems to me that it would be the right thing.

cf. modern Italian: Mi sembra che sarebbe la cosa giusta.

Thus it had a complete set of subject clitics and an expletive / impersonal pronoun.

1S: a / e

2S: te / ti

3S-m: el

3S-f: la

1P: a / e

2P: a / e

3P-m: i

3P-f: le

'expletive': l

We see that the 1st person singular has spread to 1st person plural and 2nd person plural. There is a kind of syntactico-semantic split there, where 2nd person singular as well as 3rd person singular and plural clitics are retained as separate.

Thus, the subject pronouns have never been a substitute for verbal morphology in Venetian, unlike French, where the endings eroded faster than the subject pronouns (although French still produced a class of disjunctive pronouns).

Venetian of the 17th century on the other hand started exhibiting these subject proclitic pronouns:

Venetian: Perchè no la pole.

Gloss: Because not she can

English: Because she cannot

cf. modern Italian: Perché (ella/essa/lei) non può.

Hence between the 15th and 17th centuries, the subject clitic had been reanalysed. Thus, the loss of agreement in Venetian finds its parallel in the evolution of early modern French, where pro-drop is functionally extinct in all but the most specific contexts (under inversion, where the subject is explicitly given with certain verbs of motion, e.g. Quand viendra Jean ?). As summarised in Poletto (1995):

Both SVe [17th century Venetian] and French have developed into systems in which Agr is not a possible pro-drop licenser. This is the reason why they both have maintained subject clitics.

In standard French subject clitics have remained true subjects. [...] On the contrary, in all Northern Italian dialects subject clitics have been reinterpreted as a possible candidate to substitute agreement in various syntactic mechansims.

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