Null subjects in contact
Alberto Frasson, Roberta D'Alessandro, Brechje van Osch
May 2020

In this paper we present data from first generation immigrants and second and third generation heritage speakers of Friulian, an Italo-Romance language spoken in Argentina and Brazil. We show that subject clitics in heritage Friulian are in a process of degrammaticalization, going from being agreement markers to weak pronouns. While subject clitics are obligatory in baseline Friulian, they are often omitted in heritage Friulian in Argentina and Brazil; this omission, however, needs to be interpreted as an omission of pronominal subjects, and not of agreement-like subject clitics. We also demonstrate that the use of SCls (reanalyzed as pronominal subjects) is conditioned both by grammatical factors (it happens more in some persons than in others) and by discourse factors (it happens more in the case of a continuation topic than in other topicalization contexts). This means that in this heritage variety, it is not the case that discourse constraints on the expression of subjects are being lost or weakened; in fact, new discourse constraints are introduced. Comments and questions very welcome!
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005226
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: submitted
keywords: subject clitics, heritage languages, null subjects, syntax
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