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LINGUIST List 18.2089

Tue Jul 10 2007

Diss: Syntax: Sheehan: 'The EPP and Null Subjects in Romance'

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        1.    Michelle Sheehan, The EPP and Null Subjects in Romance

Message 1: The EPP and Null Subjects in Romance
Date: 10-Jul-2007
From: Michelle Sheehan <michelle.sheehanncl.ac.uk>
Subject: The EPP and Null Subjects in Romance

Institution: Newcastle University
Program: School of English Literature, Language & Linguistics (SELLL)
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2006

Author: Michelle Louise Sheehan

Dissertation Title: The EPP and Null Subjects in Romance

Dissertation URL: http://people.pwf.cam.ac.uk/mtb23/NSP/Sheehan%20dissertation.html

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

Dissertation Director(s):
Anders Holmberg
Ian G. Roberts

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation assesses how null subjects in Romance might be accounted
for in a Minimalist framework. It is argued, contra Alexiadou and
Anagnostopoulou (1998) and Barbosa (1995), that Romance null subject
languages (NSLs) have an active EPP of the 'merge XP' type, and that
agreement morphology in said languages is the uninterpretable, PF
realisation of valued phi-features on I. Evidence for this claim comes from
(i) the behaviour of preverbal subjects, (ii) restrictions on possible word
orders, and (iii) evidence for the existence of null expletives/locatives.

An examination of word order possibilities in different pragmatic contexts
shows that, invariably, SVO is 'unmarked.' A slight complication comes from
Spanish, which allows VSO order in such contexts, only where another XP
surfaces preverbally. As such, it appears to be the case that spec IP is
obligatorily filled in Romance NSLs. In short, 'free inversion' is not the
result simply of verb movement to the I-domain, rather it is either; (i) a
form of locative inversion, (ii) expletive-associate inversion, or (ii) the
product of prosodic interface conditions.

Null referential subjects, it is proposed, are derived via deletion under
non-distinctness in the phonological component. In NSLs, the head I bears
an uninterpretable [uD] feature (Roberts 2004), and assuming that valued
formal features have the same status as PF-features for the phonological
component, the featural make-up of a pronominal subject is a subset of that
of I.

Finally, Brazilian Portuguese (BP) is discussed. While BP is not an NSL, it
does license null expletive, locative, generic and bound embedded subjects. It
is argued that the limited availability of null subjects in BP is
because: (i) spec IP need not be PF-visible, and (ii) subjects raise to a
topic position in BP, a Topic prominent language. Once again, null subjects
are the result of deletion/null spellout in the phonological component.

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