Back to overview Show all

Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Linguistica e Filologia
Volume (Issue) 36
Page(s) 27 - 68
Title of proceedings Linguistica e Filologia
DOI 10.6092/lef_36_2016_p27

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


In comparison with the research devoted to adverbials in other European languages, such as French and English, Italian adverbials have not been adequately studied. Moreover, in the few studies on Italian adverbials (in particular on the ones realized as adverbs), most of the attention is devoted to their syntactic and semantic properties. Little attention is paid to their pragmatic features and discourse functions, which as a result largely remain unknown. This paper demonstrates the need for a more radical functional approach in the description of adverbials: first, it proposes a functionally-based model to classify adverbials and, second, it shows that the functional categories identified in such a classification are largely confirmed by taking into account the informational properties of adverbials, in particular their distribution in the information units of utterances. Our study is based on data of spontaneous spoken Italian drawn from the database IPIC (Information Patterning in Interlinguistic Comparison), in which the information units are identified according to the theoretical model known as Language into Act Theory (LAct, as outlined in Cresti 2000). Specifically, on the basis of a qualitative analysis of the most frequently occurring adverbs ending with the suffix -mente, as well as purtroppo ‘unfortunately’ and forse ‘perhaps’, we highlight important informational differences not only between the syntactically-identified categories of predicative and sentence adverbials, but also within the category of sentence adverbials. Highlighting informational differences within the category of sentence adverbials is particularly interesting, as it allows identifying two main functional categories of adverbials: adverbials operating at the level of the proposition (or Dictum) and adverbials operating at the level of the illocution (or Actum).