Edited by Alexander Haselow and Sylvie Hancil
[Studies in Language Companion Series 219] 2021
► pp. 195–228
In this paper, we undertake a systematic investigation of the peculiar behavior of the optional expletive subject pronoun nó expl in spoken Vietnamese. The first part of our study consists of an in-depth examination of its syntactic and semantic properties in comparison to those of its referential counterpart. From this overview, it appears that the distribution of nó expl is jointly determined by syntactic and discourse factors. We then critically appraise the recent analysis by Greco et al. (2018a, b), according to which nó expl imposes a specificity requirement on sentences containing it. We suggest to reinterpret this requirement as a corollary of the assessment by the speaker of a given state of affairs against her epistemic background. Pursuing the line of argumentation developed in Dao (2014) and integrating insights from Speas-Tenny’s syntactic approach to Evidentiality (Speas & Tenny 2003; Speas 2004; Tenny 2006), we argue that nó expl is best treated as an ego-evidential marker. We further show that nó expl does not intrinsically encode evidentiality but acquires its evidential import via syntactic processes.