This paper describes some peculiarities of use of the indefinite pronouns of free choice (chiunque, qualunque, qualsiasi, etc.) in medieval Italo-Romance varieties. After discussing the semantic and pragmatic specificities of free-choice indefinites in current Italian and their evolution from classical Latin to Vulgar Latin and late Latin, the study discusses the data that emerged from the examination of the corpus of the Opera del Vocabolario Italiano (OVI). In most occurrences, free-choice indefinite pronouns behave as relative-indefinite pronouns (i. e., as introducers of relative clauses). Their absolute use (i. e., outside the relative clauses) seems instead marginal and concentrated in juridical texts, and in contexts in which the draftsman of the statute or act needs to maximise the scope of a rule or prohibition. It thus seems possible to hypothesise that the absolute use of free choice indefinite pronouns originated as an effect of the process of elaboration of the vulgar Italo-Romance varieties and started from formulary sequences, which by virtue of their high occurrence in particular types of texts gave rise to phenomena of ellipses and the use of relative-indefinite pronouns as “pure” pronouns.
De Roberto, E. (2022). Strutture dell’indeterminatezza e cambiamento per elaborazione: lo sviluppo degli indefiniti di scelta libera in italiano antico. ROMANISTISCHES JAHRBUCH, 73(1), 70-107 [10.1515/roja-2022-0003].