Article published in:Register Variation and Syntactic Theory
Edited by Diane Massam and Tim Stowell
[Linguistic Variation 17:2] 2017
► pp. 272–291
Obligatorily null pronouns in the instructional register and beyond
English is not canonically considered a pro-drop language. Despite this, it does allow null pronouns, although less freely than traditional pro-drop languages like Italian and Japanese. The focus of this paper is the instructional register (characteristic of recipes) where we claim that object pronouns are obligatorily null in English: “Take 3 eggs. Break _ into a bowl.”. We present an analysis of Instructional Register Null Objects that also accounts for obligatorily null pronouns in certain radical pro-drop languages like Niuean. In this language, most pronouns are optionally null, however 3rd person inanimate pronouns are obligatorily null. We argue that the obligatorily null nature of such pronouns (whether register-specific like in English, or general as in Niuean) is a result of their lack of φ-features, which leaves them with only the option of being realized through Neeleman & Szendrői’s (2007) general Zero Spell-out Rule.
Keywords: Instructional register, Niuean, null arguments, obligatorily null pronouns, pronouns, pro-drop, recipe register
Published online: 26 January 2018
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