It is often assumed that Italian subjunctive complement clauses (SCCs) are highly dependent, both syntactically and pragmatically, on the superordinate clause (Schmitt Jensen 1970; Gsell and Wandruszka 1986; Wandruszka 1991). This amounts to saying that SCCs are not only desententialized, i.e. are propositions without illocutionary force, but that in comparison to indicative complement clauses they display a higher degree of nominality.
The dissertation looks for new evidence confirming or disproving this assumption and examines the use of the subjunctive in the LIP-Corpus of spoken Italian, concentrating mainly on assertions with epistemic or evaluative predicates. The principal criteria for sententiality vs. nominality are potential properties of the governing predicate: 1) parentheticality (Bolinger 1968); 2) restrictions regarding the complement (clause and noun vs. clause or noun); 3) rhematicity. An additional criterion is its semantic transparency, which favors the extraction of constituents from the complement clause and their dislocation in the main clause.
The study shows, first of all, that the Italian subjunctive is far from 'dead' in spoken language (1 out of 4 complement clauses are in this mood) and that the great majority of SCCs are of the sentential type, i.e. enjoy a considerable syntactic and pragmatic independence. This conclusion is best evidenced by the high frequency of subjunctives after predicates which can be used parenthetically (credo, mi pare, penso, and mi sembra).