Featured Linguist!

Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

Donate Now | Visit the Fund Drive Homepage

Amount Raised:


Still Needed:


Can anyone overtake Syntax in the Subfield Challenge ?

Grad School Challenge Leader: University of Washington

Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

New from Oxford University Press!


What is English? And Why Should We Care?

By: Tim William Machan

To find some answers Tim Machan explores the language's present and past, and looks ahead to its futures among the one and a half billion people who speak it. His search is fascinating and important, for definitions of English have influenced education and law in many countries and helped shape the identities of those who live in them.

New from Cambridge University Press!


Medical Writing in Early Modern English

Edited by Irma Taavitsainen and Paivi Pahta

This volume provides a new perspective on the evolution of the special language of medicine, based on the electronic corpus of Early Modern English Medical Texts, containing over two million words of medical writing from 1500 to 1700.

Summary Details

Query:   Null Subject in Coordinated Clauses
Author:  Bruno Oliveira Maroneze
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Syntax

Summary:   On January 7, 2001 I posted the folowing query (Linguist 12.7) to this list:

Dear linguists,
I don't know if this topic has already been studied. If I am making questions which have already been answered, please let me know and point me the references.
When I was studying about the null subject parameter in Brazilian Portuguese, I became very intrigued with the fact that in coordinated clauses, the subject of the second clause can be omitted even in non-pro-drop languages (like English). For example, a sentence like (1) is perfectly grammatical:

(1) I travel a lot and see wonderful things

In (Brazilian) Portuguese, for example, the sentence could be:

(1a) Viajo muito e vejo coisas maravilhosas

without the subject (i. e., with omitted subject) in both clauses; or:

(1b) Eu viajo muito e vejo coisas maravilhosas

with the subject expressed only in the first clause. Sentence (1c) is more complicated:

(1c) ? Eu viajo muito e eu vejo coisas maravilhosas

with both subjects expressed; sentence (1d) is agrammatical:

(1d) * Viajo muito e eu vejo coisas maravilhosas

with only the second subject expressed.

My first question is: in English, is the deletion of the second subject a case of ellipsis? If so, may we consider it a case of ellipsis also in (Brazilian) Portuguese? (We normally don't consider null subjects in Portuguese as elliptical, because an ellipsis implies that the ''thing being omitted'' has already been expressed, which is not always the case).
I analysed these data in another non-pro-drop language, French. It seems to me that this language ''behaves differently'':

(2) ?? Je voyage beaucoup et vois de tr?s belles choses

To me, this sentence is agrammatical, but I want to check it with
native speakers.
My second question is: if in coordinated clauses the subject of the second clause can be omitted even in non-pro-drop languages, may sentence (2) be an argument to demonstrate that French has clitic subjects?

Bruno Oliveira Maroneze

First of all, I wish to thank all who responded to the query:

Ana Muller
Cilene Nunes Rodrigues
Georges Rebuschi
Gilles Bernard
Hutchinson, Larry
Joaquim Brand?o de Carvalho
John R Te Velde
Yan Huang
I hope I haven't forgotten anyone.

Hutchinson, Rebuschi and Rodrigues told that coordinated clauses are in fact coordinated VPs and, because of that, they need only one subject. Rodrigues also said that correference in coordination forces the second subject to be ''null'', which is an argument to the VP-coordination analysis:
(1) * O Jo?o-x dan?ou e ele-x cantou
(2) O Jo?o dan?ou e cantou
She also suggested two works: Johnson (1994) and Zoerner & Agbayani (2001).

Miller suggested me four works:
Duarte, Ma. Eugenia Lamoglia. MA thesis (UNICAMP). I couldn't find its title.
Cyrino, Sonia. PhD thesis (UNICAMP). I couldn't find its title.
It claims that null subjects in Brazilian Portuguese are a case of
Munn, Allan. PhD thesis (University of Maryland). I couldn't find its title.
Negrao and Muller (DELTA). I couldn't find its title.
It claims that empty subjects are bound variables.

Te Velde pointed another problem: constructions like these (with a ''null subject'' non-coreferential with the first subject):
(1) A woman-x is the Secretary of State in the U.S. and e-y could
soon be elected president in Germany
(2) Eine Frau-x ist Au?enminister in den USA und e-y koennte bald zur
Praesidentin in Deutschland gew?hlt werden
are possible in English and German, while they are impossible in Brazilian Portuguese. He suggested me these works:
B?ring, Daniel & Katharina Hartmann. 1998. ''Asymmetrische Koordination.''
Linguistische Berichte 174: 172-201.
te Velde, J. 1999. ''Asymmetrische Koordination? Jain! Another Look at
Subject and Object Gaps in Coordinate Structures.'' Groninger Arbeiten zur
Germanistischen Linguistik 43 (1999): 155-172. Groningen: Germanistisch

Huang suggested me his new book on anaphora:
Huang, Yan (2000). Anaphora: A Cross-linguistic Study. Oxford Studies in
Typology and Linguistic Theory.

Rebuschi told me that the unacceptability of the sentence
Eu viajo muito e eu vejo coisas maravilhosas
can be explained if we admit that the second ''eu'' is emphatic (contrastive); so, pragmatically, there cannot be any contrast between the two subjects, as they are the same.

Lastly, the French linguists who answered me (Flap, Bernard and
Rebuschi) told that the sentence (2)
Je voyage beaucoup et vois de tr?s belles choses
is perfect; but Bernard and Carvalho noted that it is a literary construction, which doesn't occur in oral French. I think that my second question must be reformulated.

Thanks to all who answered my query!

LL Issue: 12.226
Date Posted: 29-Jan-2001
Original Query: Read original query


Sums main page