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Embedded null subjects in Capeverdean1

  • JOÃO COSTA (a1) and FERNANDA PRATAS (a1)

Abstract

The status of Capeverdean as a pro-drop language is controversial. Baptista (2002) contends that this Portuguese-based creole has null referential subjects with some types of predicates, while Pratas (2002, 2007) proposes that it has only expletive null subjects. She argues that the rare cases of root null subjects can be analyzed as instances of null expletives. The aim of this paper is to show that in Capeverdean there is an asymmetry in the distribution of null referential subjects. These are ruled out in root contexts, but allowed in some embedded contexts; this is the case when the null subject is bound by a wh-operator or a quantifier. Following Holmberg's (2005) and Holmberg, Nayudu & Sheehan's (2009) analysis of null subjects, we offer an analysis of Capeverdean null subjects exploring the properties of T in the language (in particular, the lack of a rich inflectional system), the syntax of subjects, and the type of null category available. We claim that Capeverdean embedded null subjects are variables, licensed by an operator in the matrix clause. We show that these specific properties explain minimal differences between null subjects in Capeverdean and Brazilian Portuguese.

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Corresponding author

Authors' addresses: Centro de Linguística da Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Avenida de Berna, 26-C, 1069-061 Lisbon, Portugaljcosta@fcsh.unl.ptfpratas@fcsh.unl.pt

Footnotes

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[1]

We are very grateful to our Capeverdean consultants from Santiago Island, especially Ana Josefa Cardoso and José António Brito. We also want to thank three anonymous Journal of Linguistics referees and the editor, for their enriching comments and suggestions; to Nina Hyams, for her careful English editing and perceptive questions, and to our colleagues Alexandra Fiéis, Inês Duarte, Charlotte Galves and Maria Lobo, for relevant insights. Research for this paper was partly funded by FCT, through the project Events and Subevents in Capeverdean (PTDC/CLE-LIN/103334/2008).

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References

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Embedded null subjects in Capeverdean1

  • JOÃO COSTA (a1) and FERNANDA PRATAS (a1)

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