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LINGUIST List 18.2248

Fri Jul 27 2007

Diss: Syntax: García: 'Aspects of the Morhosyntax of Finite Null Su...'

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        1.    Julio Villa García, Aspects of the Morhosyntax of Finite Null Subjects in Romance

Message 1: Aspects of the Morhosyntax of Finite Null Subjects in Romance
Date: 26-Jul-2007
From: Julio Villa García <juliovillagarciagmail.com>
Subject: Aspects of the Morhosyntax of Finite Null Subjects in Romance
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Institution: University of Essex
Program: Department of Language and Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007

Author: Julio Villa García

Dissertation Title: Aspects of the Morhosyntax of Finite Null Subjects in

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

Language Family(ies): Romance

Dissertation Director(s):
Andrew Radford

Dissertation Abstract:

Syntactically, what mainly characterises Romance languages like Spanish or
Italian is that they are prototypical Null Subject Languages (NSLs). Under
Chomsky's 1981a, 1982 theory of empty categories, the syntactic behaviour
of Romance NSLs could be elegantly explained, though certain issues
including the relationship between 'strong' inflection and subject drop
remained unresolved. Chomsky's recent proposals, however, represent a major
challenge for Romance linguists in that the standard account of pro-drop
can no longer be maintained - an important issue being that it is fraught
with theoretical and empirical problems. An additional complication
concerns Brazilian Portuguese (BP), a former NSL whose NULL SUBJECT
PARAMETER is currently undergoing resetting. Finally, a matter which
further complicates the analysis of Romance pro-drop is the issue of finite

This paper tackles the above-mentioned issues by critically reviewing both
classical and recent analyses, primarily Rizzi 1986, Tamburelli 2006,
Holmberg 2005, Barbosa (forthcoming) and Landau 2004, 2006. Special
attention will be devoted to certain problems they pose in Minimalism. It
is proposed that the link between 'rich' agreement and pro-drop in Romance
can in some sense be retained. Similarly, it is suggested that two kinds of
finite null subject exist in Romance, namely Spanish-style or consistent
pro, and BP or partial pro. Basically, the main difference between the two
is that the former is a pronoun which can appear in any finite context,
whilst the latter is a pronominal anaphor which can only occur as long as
it is controlled. In light of this, a current account of Romance 'little
pro' is outlined. 'Big PRO.' for its part, remains the non-overt subject of
non-finite clauses in Romance.

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