LINGUIST List 3.253

Mon 16 Mar 1992

Disc: Pro-Drop

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. , Pro-Drop References
  2. , Pro-Drop acquisition
  3. Geoffrey Russom, Re: 3.246 Pro-Drop

Message 1: Pro-Drop References

Date: Wed, 11 Mar 92 16:17:36 +0Pro-Drop References
From: <nuytsccu.UIA.AC.BE>
Subject: Pro-Drop References

Some time ago I asked for references on the use of pronouns in pro-drop
languages, on behalf of a colleague of mine. Below is a list of references
she compiled on the basis of your responses (some of them are unfortunately
incomplete). Thanks a lot to all those who have replied. If you want to get
in touch with her (her name is Luisa Martin-Rojo), her email-address is

Jan Nuyts

Akmajian, Adrian, 1984. "Sentence Types and the Form-Function
Fit". Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 2, 1-23.

Barton, Elena, 1990. Nonsentential Constituents, Amsterdam:

Bentivoglio, Paoloa, 1983. "Topic continuity and Discontinuity
in Discourse: A Study of Spoken Latino-American Spanish".
T.Givon, Topic Continuity in Discourse: A Quantitative Cross-
Language Study. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 255-311.

Fern ndez Soriano, Olga, 199?. "Strong Pronouns in Null-Subject
Language and the Avoid Pronoun Principle"

Fleischman, Suzanne, 1991. "Discourse Pragmatics and the Grammar
of Old French: A functional Reinterpretation of 'si' and the
Personal Pronouns". Romance Philology 44/3, 251-283.

Haiman, John, 1991. "From V/2 to Subject Clitics: Evidence from
Nothern Italian". E. Traugott & B. Heine, Approaches to
Grammaticalization, Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Lapolla, Randy, 1990. Grammatical relations in Chinese:
Synchronic and Diachronic considerations. PhD Dissertation,
University of California: Berkeley.

Li, Charles N, & Thompson, Sandra, 1979. "Third-person Pronouns
and Zero-anaphora in Chinese Discourse". Talmy Giv"n (ed.),
Syntax and Semantics, vol.12: Discourse and Syntax. New York:
Academic Press, 311-335.

Liceras, Juana, 1989. "On some properties of the "pro-drop"
parameter: looking for missing subjects in non-native Spanish".
Linguistic perspectives on Language adquisition, Cambridge
University Press.

Napoli, Jo, 1982. "Initial Material Delection". English Glossa
16, 85-111.

Ping, Chen, 1984. "A discourse analysis of third person zero
anaphora in chinese". Bloomington: Indiana University Linguistic
-, 1987. Referent Introducing and Referent Tracking in Chinese
narrative. PhD Dissertation: UCLA.
-, 1987. Nangu Lingxing huizhi de huayu fenxi (A discourse
anylisis of zero anaphora in CHinese). Zhongguo Yuwen 5, 363-378.

Rigau, Gemma, 1986. "Some remarks on the nature of strong
pronouns in null-subjects languages". Ivonne Bordelois, Heles
Contreras, Zagona (eds.), Generative Studies in Spanish Syntax.
Dordrecht: Foris.
-, 1987. "Sobre el car cter de cuantificador de los pronombres
t"nicos en catal n". V. Demonte and M., Fern ndez Lagunilla,
Sintaxis de las lenguas romances. Madrid: El Arquero.
-, 1989. "Connexity Establised by Emphatic Pronouns". Maria
Elisabeth Conte, Janos S. Petfi, Szen (eds.), Text and
Discourse Connected.

Schwarts, Arthur, 1975. "Verb-anchoring and verb-movement". Li,
Charles N (ed.), Word order and word order change. Austin:
University of Texas.

Schmerling, Susan, 1973. Subjectless sentences and the notion of
surface structure. (

Silva-Croval n, Carmen, 1983. "Tense and aspect in oral Spanish:
context and meaning". Language 59, 761-780.

Tao, Liang, 1986. "Clause linkage and zero anphora in Mandarin
Chinese", Davis Working Papers in Linguistcs 1, 36-102.

Thrasher, Randolph, Hallet, 19784. Shouldn't Ignore this Things:
A Study of Conversational Delection. Michigan University.
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Message 2: Pro-Drop acquisition

Date: Sun, 15 Mar 1992 10:12:15 Pro-Drop acquisition
Subject: Pro-Drop acquisition

I have no specific references to supply to Chris Sciglitano, who
is investigating input to children learning pro-Drop languages. I would
like to raise a related query, which contributors may wish to discuss
on Linguist, or about which they could send me references directly.

I work on Australian Aboriginal languages, many of which (particularly
the non-Pama-Nyungan ones) have complex verb morphology including reference
to subject, objects and often other arguments; independent subject and
object pronouns are rarely overtly present except for emphasis.
It has been reported to me anecdotally that speakers of at least some
of these languages use a simplified register to young children in which
the verb morphology is simplified and independent pronouns are used much
more. I do not know of any published description of this phenomenon.
I have been unable to study it because with all such languages that I
have worked on, use of an English based creole has replaced any such
child register.

This kind of language is very common on a world scale and I would be
very interested to learn of related phenomena.

It seems to me that this has implications for theories of historical
change. There seems to me to be a bias towards regarding cliticisation
and morphologisation of pronouns as a natural phenomenon. I have studied
some cases where the opposite process seems to have occurred - loss
of crossreference morphology and restoration of free pronouns. This may
result from "creolisation" - implying some disturbace in inter-generational
transmission. However if simple child registers exist, the source of
the new non-Pro-Drop language may not be so mysterious as is sometimes

Patrick McConvell, Anthropology, Northern Territory University,
PO Box 40146, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia
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Message 3: Re: 3.246 Pro-Drop

Date: Mon, 16 Mar 92 12:04:31 ESRe: 3.246 Pro-Drop
From: Geoffrey Russom <>
Subject: Re: 3.246 Pro-Drop

Early Germanic verse usually deletes pronouns, but some late Germanic
verse uses them much more often and they are also used much more often
in prose. The usual way of explaining this is to say that movement of
stress to the first syllable in Germanic languages made personal endings
vulnerable to reduction, impoverishing INFL to the point where personal
pronouns had to take over some of its functions. Pronouns
served well for this purpose because they retained overt
inflectional morphology longer than nouns (still do, to a certain
extent). This all antedates creolization of English by French.
The fixed syntax of Modern English follows French influence, but
already in OE lexical nouns most often observe a canonical order, and the
pronouns that often appear "out of order" toward the beginning of the
clause are distinctly case-marked (unlike some nouns which had lost
subject/object distinctions of case quite early). The movement of
stress onto the first syllable would appear to constitute a major
commitment to the root as against the inflectional ending, so this
may be a case of the sort you have in mind.
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