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|Abstract||In this paper we examine how Old Italian expressed the ‘temporal distance' of an event that took place in the past in relation to the utterance time (cf. Modern Italian tre anni / mesi / settimane fa ‘three years / mounths / weeks ago'). We will show that the Modern Italian phrase derives from a similar one which was used also in Old Italian, whose syntactic structure was, nevertheless, different. Whereas the deictic value of the Old Italian expression resulted from the compositional meaning of the single elements which formed it, in Modern Italian the syntactic ‘transparence' is lost and we can say that the modern form has become lexically deictic.|