2007) in verb-focus constructions (5); (vi) only eastern varieties have distinct non-finite transitive and intransitive auxiliaries, unlike central ones, in which only a general purpose one exists ( izan ―be/have‖) (6); (vii) E astern dialects allow for post-auxiliary, participle internal negation (not an instance of constituent negation, see Etxepare and Uribe-Etxebarria, 2009) (7). Finally, Eastern dialects require simple unergative verbs to combine with be , instead of have , unlike in central/western dialects (8). Outside the domain of periphrastic constructions proper, only eastern varieties have participial relatives (9). I will claim that those differences can be reduced to a single morphosyntactic parameter, consisting in the fact that eastern copulas must be ―synthetic verbs‖ (De Rijk, 2008) not auxiliaries, the latter being the only option in central dialects. Synthetic verbs are finite verbs which, unlike auxiliaries, possess a lexical root. The class of synthetic verbs in Basque is composed of a handful of very common verbs, including the equivalents of the romance locative copulas (cf. Spanish estar ). In eastern dialects, this class would include the transitive and intransitive copulas. As a first step in the argument, let me note that the immediate adjacency of focus/wh-phrase and finite forms is generally possible in Basque in the case of synthetic verbs (10), and in identificational predications (11), for which it has been claimed that the copula may be a contentful verb (Zaring, 1996, on Welsh). It is also well known that synthetic verbs do not accept dummy do in Basque. The reason is simple: synthetic verbs are characterized by the fact that the verbal root raises to T; and as shown by Haddican (2007) dummy do is inserted as a way to save stray aspectual morphology, when the lexical verb cannot raise to Aspect and beyond. If eastern auxiliaries are synthetic verbs we easily explain this otherwise intriguing lexical gap in the Basque dialectal continuum. This hypothesis complies well with the fact that only eastern dialects have distinct lexical forms for intransitive ( izan ) and transitive ( ukan ) non-finite auxiliaries. We can capitalize on the lexical status of eastern copulas to account for the rest of the distinguishing properties of those varieties: on the one hand, lexical copulas do not trigger ordinary predicate fronting (Haddican, 2004), the syntactic process whereby verbal predicates in Basque periphrases raise to a higher polarity phrase immediately preceding the auxiliary in unmarked affirmative sentences, yielding the rigid order OVAux. Other things, such as focus particles or evidential adverbs, may intervene (see 4). Then, the lexical status of the copula in eastern varieties also has an effect in the type of complement it can take: lexical verbs, unlike auxiliaries, can take complements of different complexity (Wurmbrandt, 2004). Those complements will be able to host at least some clausal functional structure, such as negation, and allow for wh-operator movement, which accounts for the existence of participial relatives. Pairs such as (2a,b), nevertheless, available in
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