Clitic Climbing

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In generative syntax, clitic climbing is a movement of a clitic out of its local domain.


As in (ii):

(i) Gianni vuole vederli
Gianni wants see-them
(ii) Gianni li vuole vedere
Gianni them -wants see

In (i) the clitic li is in its normal position, cliticized on the infinitive. In (ii) the clitic is moved out of the domain of the infinitive and cliticized on the matrix verb vuole.


This phenomenon is also common in other Romance languages, but not in French. Clitic Climbing facts have led to the assumption that certain verbs, like volere in Italian, trigger Restructuring.


Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics


  • Kayne, R. 1989. Null subjects and clitic climbing. In Jaeggli, O. & Safur, K. (eds.) The null subject parameter. Amsterdam: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  • Rizzi, L. 1982. Issues in Italian syntax. Dordrecht: Foris.