'pro' as a minimal NP: towards a unified theory of 'pro'-drop
Pilar Barbosa
June 2018

In recent years, there has been a return to Perlmutter’s (l971) insight that the implicit subject in the NSLs is a fully specified pronoun that is deleted in PF or fails to have a PF realization (Holmberg 2005, Roberts 2010, Neeleman and Szendrői 2007). This view has been motivated in part by the observation that the classic GB theory of 'pro' as a minimally specified nominal whose features are supplied by Infl is incompatible with the approach to feature theory developed in the Minimalist Program (Chomsky l995, 2001 and subsequent work). In this framework, the φ-features in T are assumed to be uninterpretable, hence unvalued. This raises a problem for the idea that subject pro is inherently unspecified for φ-features. Concomitantly, recent theories of the nature of pronouns (Elbourne 2005) have posited a phonologically null NP as a complement of D in every pronoun (an NP affected by deletion, in the case of E-type pronouns, or a default, nearly semantically empty nominal [NP e] in the case of regular pronouns). This proposal reintroduces the need to posit a null, minimally specified NP in the grammar, thus reopening the issue of whether 'pro' can be reduced to an instance of [NP e]. Here we offer an analysis of different types of subject pro-drop that attempts to reduce pro to the very same [NP e] that occurs as complement of D in pronouns or is independently attested in cases of null NP anaphora (in the spirit of Tomioka 2003).
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/001949
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Linguistic Inquiry (accepted)
keywords: pro-drop; partial null subject languages; rich-agreement null subject languages; discourse pro-drop languages; semi pro-drop languages; null np anaphora; type shifting, syntax
previous versions: v3 [January 2017]
v2 [August 2016]
v1 [November 2013]
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