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Sonderforschungsbereich 471:
Variation und
im Lexikon
Universität Konstanz, SFB 471, Projekt A19
Thursday – Saturday, November 11 – 13, 2004, Room G 307
Organized by Georg A. Kaiser & Marc-Olivier Hinzelin
Universität Konstanz, SFB 471, Projekt A19
Universität Konstanz, SFB 471, Projekt A19
Thursday – Saturday, November 11 – 13, 2004, Room G 307
Organized by Georg A. Kaiser & Marc-Olivier Hinzelin
Deborah Arteaga (University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV)
Josef Bayer (SFB 471, Universität Konstanz)
Ellen Brandner (SFB 471, Universität Konstanz)
Patricia Cabredo Hofherr (CNRS UMR 7023, Université Paris 8 – Vincennes-Saint Denis)
Ernestina Carrilho (Universidade de Lisboa)
Julia Herschensohn (University of Washington, Seattle, WA)
Marc-Olivier Hinzelin (SFB 471, Universität Konstanz)
Georg A. Kaiser (SFB 471, Universität Konstanz)
Eva-Maria Remberger (Freie Universität Berlin)
Stefan Sudhoff (Universität Leipzig)
Almeida Jacqueline Toribio (The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA)
Tonjes Veenstra (Freie Universität Berlin)
Luis Silva-Villar (Mesa State College, Grand Junction, CO)
Juan Uriagereka (University of Maryland, College Park, MD)
Thursday, November 11 (Room G 307)
4.15 – 5.45 pm
Julia Herschensohn (UW Seattle):
“Parametric differences in French and English expletives and agreement”
Starting 7 pm
Warming up
at Zum Guten Hirten Restaurant (Zollernstr. 8, Tel. 284318)
Friday, November 12 (Room G 307)
9.30 – 9.50 am
9.50 – 10.40 am
Luis Silva-Villar (MSC Grand Junction):
“Growing expletives”
10.40 – 11.30 am
Juan Uriagereka (UM College Park):
“A peripheral pleonastic in Western Iberian”
11.30 – 11.50 am
Coffee Break
11.50 – 12.40 pm
Tonjes Veenstra (FU Berlin):
“Expletive constructions in Papiamentu: NSL-profiles and the subject-in-situ
12.40 – 2.20 pm
Lunch Break
at Arche Restaurant (on Campus)
2.20 – 3.10 pm
Eva-Maria Remberger (FU Berlin):
“Locative, expletive, or existential? The status of Italian ci and its
3.10 – 4 pm
Patricia Cabredo Hofherr (Paris 8):
“The alternation of subjects in weather predicates: French il/ça pleut”
4 – 4.30 pm
Coffee Break
4.30 – 5.20 pm
Deborah Arteaga (UNLV Las Vegas) & Julia Herschensohn (UW Seattle):
“Main and subordinate expletives and morphological leveling in French
5.20 – 6.10 pm
Georg A. Kaiser (Konstanz):
“Overt and empty expletives in French”
7.30 pm
Conference Dinner
at St. Stephanskeller Restaurant (St. Stephansplatz 41, Tel. 23566)
Saturday, November 13 (G 307)
9.30 – 10.20 am
Ernestina Carrilho (UL Lisboa):
“Overt expletives in European Portuguese”
10.20 – 11.10 am
Almeida Jacqueline Toribio (Penn State, University Park):
“Expletive ello and ensuing structures in Dominican Spanish”
11.10 – 11.30 am
Coffee Break
11.30 – 12.20 pm
Marc-Olivier Hinzelin (Konstanz):
“The neuter pronoun ello in impersonal constructions in Dominican
12.20 – 2 pm
Lunch Break
Sandwiches etc. (on Campus)
2 – 2.50 pm
Ellen Brandner (Konstanz):
“Expletives in Germanic and clause structure”
2.50 – 3.40 pm
Stefan Sudhoff (Leipzig):
“On the syntactic status of German es as a correlate of embedded clauses”
3.40 – 4.10 pm
Coffee Break
4.10 – 5 pm
Josef Bayer (Konstanz):
“Notes on the status of subjects and expletives in connection with word
7 pm
at Don Alfredo Restaurant (Hofhalde 7, Tel. 917622)
Parametric differences in French and English expletives and agreement
Julia Herschensohn (UW Seattle)
The embedded infinitival of raising and Exceptional Case Marking (ECM) constructions
behaves differently in English and in French, indicating a parametric difference between the
two languages. In English, Tense requires an overt subject and verb agreement; the expletive
there appears as subject of both tensed (1) and infinitival clauses (2).
a. There are likely to be awarded several prizes. (raising)
b. Several prizes are likely to be awarded.
a. We expect there to be awarded several prizes. (ECM)
b. We expect several prizes to be awarded.
In contrast, French shows no expletives in non-finite clauses, for il (3sg-m-nom) / le (3sg-macc) ‘it, there’ is ungrammatical in infinitival (3) and adjectival (4) clauses.
a. On (*il / *le) a entendu arriver 3 hommes. ‘We heard there arrive 3 men.’
b. Les savants (*il / *le) feront neiger. ‘The scientists will make it snow.’
a. Max (*il / *le) estime bizarre que CP. ‘Max thinks it strange that CP.’
b. Marie (*il / *le) trouve agréable de se baigner. ‘Marie finds it nice to swim.’
As in English, French tensed clauses require overt subject and verb agreement, as (5a) shows
with unaccusative arriver ‘to arrive’ under raising risquer ‘to be apt’.
a. Il risque (3sg) / *risquent (3pl) d’arriver trois hommes.
there risks (3sg) / (3pl) of to arrive three men.
‘There are apt to arrive three men.’
b. Trois hommes risquent (3pl) d’arriver. ‘Three men are apt to arrive.’
Only if the associate (trois hommes) raises to the matrix sentence does agreement obtain (e.g.
pl in (5b)); there is no long distance agreement as in English whose T allows raising of the
expletive, but agreement with the embedded associate (1a)). This paper argues that the
difference is attributable to morpho-lexical features of expletives in the two languages.
The Raising and ECM examples are assumed to derive from constructions such as (6) in
which b is the matrix clause, a an infinitival with YP a verbal phrase.
[b P [a[SUBJ [H YP]]]]
P is a “probe” that seeks a “goal” to match its features. In this present case, T is the probe with
raising verbs (1), forcing raising of SUBJ to the matrix clause to satisfy Case and agreement
features, while v is the probe with ECM verbs requiring accusative object agreement. The
infinitival of the English sentences has as subject either the expletive or the passive subject of
the infinitive. In the a) cases the probe is satisfied by merge with the expletive and in b) by
moving the passive subject. The variation between French and English can be attributed to
morphological differences between there and il. While there has almost no features, allowing
it to be in nominative or accusative positions, il carries several: [3pers, masc, sing, nominat].
The impossibility of infinitival expletives in French as opposed to English, is due to the lack
of features of there. It is transparent to agreement, which obtains with the long distance
associate. On the other hand, il has several pronominal features that must be checked against
verb agreement, therefore requiring inflectional Tense. The possibility of infinitival expletives
and long distance agreement in English is due to lack of pronominal features of there as
against feature-rich French il.
Growing expletives
Luis Silva-Villar (MSC Grand Junction)
The diachronic expletive cycle created by successive stages of evolution from a language state
with no expletives into a state with topic expletives, and turning from there into a final state
with subject expletives is claimed to be a universal component of human languages. Initially
proposed for Mainland Scandinavian languages, it is shown that Romance languages, all
Germanic languages and Slavic languages conform and are consistent with the same cycle.
Two conditions – Expletive Creation and Pro-drop Neutralization – derive this directional
sequence by taking topicality and pro-drop as primitives.
The following facts support our view of expletives growing (or evolving) diachronically in a
systematically well organized manner:
The historical sequence
(1) pro-drop > Topic-Exp > Subject-Exp
(Faarlund 1990)
exceeds the mainland Scandinavian domain.
French, Germanic Languages (in general), NILs (Northwestern Iberian Languages:
Spanish, Leonese, Galegan) and Slavic (Czech and Sorbian) illustrate specific stages of
the expletive/pro-drop historical sequence Ø-Exp > Topic-Exp > Subject-Exp.
No language has developed expletive topics from expletive subjects: *Subject-Exp >
Verb second is not as relevant as presented thus far in the literature since the diachronic
evolution shown in the historical sequence applies to both non-V2 languages and
languages in which the sequence in (1) is broken (or frozen) with no implication for their
‘apparent’ V2 status. Additionally, the loss of V2 in French in 14th-15th centuries does
not affect the creation of Expletive Subjects as an innovation within embedded contexts.
Regardless whether a language is an Iberian-like, a Germanic-like or a Slavic-like
language, pro-drop is relevant when ascribing languages to one stage [of (1)] or another.
Rich agreement systems have prevented NILs and Slavic languages from developing
expletive subjects.
English must have had expletive topics in its diachronic evolution since null subjects are
found as late as the 16th century (Visser 1963). Therefore, the overlapping of the three
stages presented in (1) is well motivated (for English).
Faarlund, J. T. (1990): Syntactic Change. Toward a Theory of Historical Syntax. Berlin/New
York: Mouton de Gruyter.
Silva-Villar, L. (1998): “Subject positions and the roles of CP” In: Schwegler, Tranel &
Uribe-Etxebarria (eds.), Romance Linguistics. Theoretical Perspectives. Amsterdam/
Philadelphia: Benjamins, 247-270.
Silva-Villar, L. (1996) [1999]: “The diachronic syntax of expletive creation” ASJU/
International Journal of Basque Linguistics and Philology 30(1): 173-193.
Visser, F. Th. (1963): An Historical Syntax of the English Language. Leiden: Brill.
A peripheral pleonastic in Western Iberian
Juan Uriagereka (UM College Park)
Although the Western Iberian (WI) pleonastic looks standard in apparently inducing (longdistance) agreement with an associate (1) and it otherwise presents characteristic locality effects
associated to chain dependencies (2), it is nonetheless peculiar among Romance pleonastics in at
least the following respects:
I. a. Normally pro-drop languages have null pleonastics, and yet WI is obviously pro-drop
(3), but its pleonastic can be overt.
b. The WI pleonastic is unlike regular overt (e.g. French) pleonastics (and like regular null
Romance pleonastics) in that it does not induce a definiteness effect in its associate (4).
c. The WI pleonastic is like pleonastics of all sorts in inducing a thetic interpretation (5)
and being incompatible with a categorical interpretation (6).
d. The WI pleonastic was typologically widespread among medieval Romance variants,
and it correlates with a variety of ‘busy left-field’ effects (7).
The present talk relates these properties by arguing that the WI pleonastic is higher than the
regular one, and compatible with it. If true, the immediate question is why sentences of the form
in (8) are ungrammatical, where the extra pleonastic sits above a standard (categorical) TP.
Related to that is an issue that arises as an account is given of why null pleonastics do not induce
a definiteness effect, by assuming they – unlike their overt counterparts – involve associate
substitution, as opposed to adjunction. Once the associate has substituted into the pleonastic, at
LF it should behave like a regular subject (thus with no definiteness effect). Furthermore, boundvariable binding and scope interaction (as in the Spanish (9)) suggests that pleonastic substitution
at LF has the desired effects. But then the issue is why equivalents of data long the lines in (9) are
out in WI (10).
The latter ought to be related to the fact that in WI scope for binary quantification is marked in
the left periphery (7g-h). This correlates with T-to-C association which is not merely of a PF sort,
and thus has consequences for interpretation in the unreconstructed CP periphery. The data in
(7d), involving pre-suppositional V copying is then central, as are affirmative answers involving
peripheral verbs; in both of these instances interpretation of a CP-internal element (the verb) must
crucially be at the CP periphery. This essentially indicates that in this sort of language phase
TRANSFER cannot be merely at the C complement or TP; material within the CP projection
must also be involved.
From this perspective, the fact that the WI overt pleonastic behaves like null ones in not inducing
definiteness effects – even if being overt it should not tolerate substitution – is because the
associate substitutes to the lower co-occurring null pleonastic. A related issue is why in nullsubject languages pleonastics are normally obligatorily, not optionally, null. Suppose this is an
economy effect: the null and the overt pleonastic compete representationally, and the former wins
because pleonastic substitution is a cleaner way of eliminating the expletive than mere
adjunction. So why is the WI overt pleonastic an option? It is not: it is just higher, which gives us
a way to tie its presence to the ‘busy left-field’. Apparently this option only exists in languages
exhibiting a pragmatically ‘hot’ left-field, associated to a morphologically active FP projection. If
this is the way things proceed, the way to eliminate this ‘extra’ pleonastic is actually not through
association to the ‘associate’, but rather by way of entire clausal association (cf. it in English).
The difficulty posed by (8) must be related to the fact that the WI pleonastic induces a thetic, not
a categorical reading, and sentences involving pre-verbal subjects are categorical in pro-drop
Romance. One way to rationalize this requirement is that, like other pleonastics, this one forces
its event quantification to be unary (thus lacking a restriction, which is like saying that
presentational constructions involving pleonastics must be maximally focal). Syntactically this
can be guaranteed if the pleonastic prevents focal (re)projections, either because of its own
requirements (e.g. because it occupies a focal domain) or because of the requirements it imposes
on the associate (e.g. preventing reprojection after adjoining).
El nasceron duas cuxas na corte.
a. El parecen [ficar a fartar amba-las duas]
b. *El parecen [fican a fartar amba-las duas]
(O vetrinario) era de Santiago.
Cando (el) houbo a Roxa e-mai-la Marela, (el) chegou a ledicia do século á granxa.
A: Qué foi?
B: (El) morreu a Xubenca, pobriña.
B’: *A Xubenca morreu, pobriña.
A: Qué lle pasou á Xubenca?
B: A Xubenca morreu, pobriña.
B’: *El morreu, pobriña.
Seica che lles morreu a cuxa.
Din que ás maduras que se pode estar-se se está tamén ás duras.
Cánto lles minha nai ten dito que non beban o mosto antes tempo!
Falar falamos todos, mais o que é traballar, só traballan os caladinos.
A: Fuches face-lo que che eu dixen?
B: fun, muller, fun.
f. El non era de ver xolda tan farralleira?
g. Todo-los rapaces lles parecen anxos ás nais (propias).
h. Todo-los rapaces parecenlles anxos ás nais (*propias)
*El Marica é mintireira redomada.
Y resultó que...
a. (le) pareció a su madre vencedor todo aquel chico que llegó llorando.
b. (le) pareció a alguna admiradora vencedor todo aquel corredor que llegó peinado.
Ello es que...
a. *pareceulle a sua nai gañador todo aquel rapaz que chegou chorando.
b. *pareceulle a algunha ademiradora gañador todo aquel corredor que chegou peinado.
Expletive constructions in Papiamentu: NSL-profiles and the subject-in-situ generalization
Tonjes Veenstra (FU Berlin)
Alexiadou & Anagnostopoulou (2001) propose a novel generalization concerning the
placement of arguments by Spell-Out, centering the discussion on principles that force
arguments to leave the VP across languages. The empirical domain they cover consists of
constructions where subject movement is not required for reasons related to the Extended
Projection Principle, expletive constructions being one of them. In these environments, one of
the arguments must vacate the VP. They argue that argument externalization is related to Case
Theory. In this paper I will present novel data on expletive constructions in Papiamentu that
cast doubt on the claim that the subject-in-situ generalization should be accounted for in terms
of Case Theory.
In such an approach, it is crucial that NP and PP arguments pattern differently, since only the
former are dependent on the v-V complex for their Case. It is shown that in Papiamentu NP
and PP arguments do not exhibit different patterns. In both cases the subject-in-situ option is
not possible. This is a strong argument against the Case-theoretic approach. Furthermore, PP
arguments and PP adjuncts do pattern differently. Only in the latter case, the subject can
remain in-situ. This is taken to indicate that the argument/adjunct distinction is an important
factor in the analysis of expletive constructions in Papiamentu.
In addition, the discussion allows us to make the following points. First, Papiamentu has verb
movement, although it has no affixal TMA markers (Baptista 2000). This argues against the
correlation between “rich” Agreement and verb movement (Bobaljik 2001). Second, the
behavior of serial verbs in expletive constructions shows that we have to distinguish two types
of them in Papiamentu: compound and syntactically built serial verb constructions. Third,
Papiamentu does not exhibit the prototypical NSL-profile.
Locative, expletive, or existential? The status of Italian ci and its relatives
Eva-Maria Remberger (FU Berlin)
Existential constructions with esserci in Italian are explained as inverse copulative
constructions in Moro (1998): the copula essere is analyzed as a V° which takes a small clause
as its complement; ci is not the (expletive) subject of the predication but a pro-predicative
which, because of its clitic status, must attach to the verb. The outcome is an inverse structure
where the copula nevertheless agrees with the postverbal subject. The word order subjectesserci is ungrammatical in a non-focussed or non-topicalized interpretation (see 1 vs. 2),
despite the EPP which somehow must be satisfied. Therefore, in the inverse structure, Moro
assumes an expletive pro in [Spec,T]. The resulting structure is thus roughly like the one given
in (3).
(1) *Tre gatti ci sono.
(2) Ci sono tre gatti.
(3) [IP pro cii sonoj [VP ti tj [SC tre gatti ti]]]
I here suggest that essere can easily be treated as an auxiliary which must be merged under T
(in a minimalist framework) in order to rescue the derivation of a verb-less predication phrase
PrP. The role of ci is, however, more complex: it might be interpreted as a locative in some
constructions, but as a deictic or existential operator in others. The presence of ci and its crosslinguistic relatives is linked to the syntactic mechanisms of agreement and the EPP, as well as
to the LF aspects of definiteness effects, modal interpretation, and the stage/individual level
distinction. Several constructions with ci (averci, volerci) and similar particles in other
languages (e.g. Sardinian bi, French y, English there, German da, or maybe also
phonologically empty elements, cf. Tortora 2001) will help to clarify its syntactic and logical
properties and functions.
Selected Bibliography:
Boeckx, Cedric (1998): “Expletive Split: Existentials and Presentationals” Paper presented in
NELS 29.
Bowers, John (1993): “The syntax of predication” Linguistic Inquiry 24: 591-656.
Bowers, John (2001): “Predication” In: M. Baltin & C. Collins (eds): The Handbook of
Contemporary Syntactic Theory. Oxford: Blackwell, 299-333.
Cardinaletti, Anna (1997): “Agreement and Control in Expletive Constructions” Linguistic
Inquiry 28: 521-533.
Chomsky, Noam (1995): The Minimalist Program. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Milsark, Gary (1974): Existential sentences in English. Ph.D. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT.
Moro, Andrea (1998): “Esserci et averci: Les clitiques sujets et une analyse en ‘petite
proposition’ pour avere” In: Alain Rouveret (ed.), "ÊTRE et AVOIR – syntaxe,
sémantique, typologie." Saint Denis: Presses Universitaires de Vincennes, 155-170.
Reisig Ferrazzano, Lisa (2003): “The Morphology of CI and its ‘Distal’ relative, Vi”. Online: (20.8.2004).
Svenonius, Peter (2002) (ed.): Subjects, Expletives and the EPP. Oxford/New York: OUP.
Tortora, Christina (2001): “Evidence for a Null Locative in Italian” In: G. Cinque & G. Salvi
(eds), Current Studies in Italian Syntax: Studies Offered to Lorenzo Renzi. London:
Elsevier, 313-326.
The alternation of subjects in weather predicates: French il/ça pleut
Patricia Cabredo Hofherr (Paris 8)
Some languages but not others allow the alternation of the unmarked weather pronoun with a
second pronoun belonging to the demonstrative paradigm.
il / ça pleut (see Ruwet 1988)
es / das regnet
it / *that rains
The deictic is limited to contexts of strong emphasis / emotional involvement.
In languages with two definite determiners distinguishing semantic and pragmatic definiteness
(see Ebert 1970, Löbner 1985 and references there) a comparable alternation is attested with
semantically unique entities such as “the sun” or “the (own) house” (see e.g. Heinrichs 1954
for the Amern dialect, Breu 2004 for Colloquial Upper Sorbian).
I will argue that the pronouns ça/das and that respectively differ in feature content: While
English that has retained its locative features, ça/das are underspecified for their locative
feature, as witnessed by their ability to appear with both proximate and distal particles:
ce-ci, ce-là
das hier, das da
Overt and empty expletives in French
Georg A. Kaiser (Konstanz)
For several years, the well-established correlation between the null subject property and the lack
of overt expletives, and between the non-null subject property and the obligatory use of lexical
expletives (Haider 2001) has been challenged by data from Germanic and Romance languages.
On the one hand, in German or (Swiss) Raetoromance, for instance, certain types of impersonal
constructions may or must lack overt expletives, although these languages do not allow null
referential subjects. On the other hand, several varieties of Romance null subject languages, in
particular Dominican Spanish, Iberian Portuguese and Galician, seem to admit overt expletive
pronouns in impersonal constructions. Several accounts for these impersonal constructions,
however, provide convincing evidence that these data do not weaken Haider’s correlation. For
German and Raetoromance, it has been shown that impersonal constructions lacking an expletive
do not imply the presence of an empty expletive (Brandner 1993, Eguzkitza & Kaiser 1999,
Cabredo Hofherr 2000). And many analyses of Romance null subject dialects showing lexical
subject pronouns in impersonal constructions provide evidence that these pronuns are topic
expletives or discourse bound elements rather than ‘true’ expletives, for they strongly differ from
typical expletives as found in non-null subject languages (Silva-Villar 1998, Hinzelin & Kaiser
These analyses, however, do not seem to be able to account for the distribution of expletives in
Old and Modern French. Old French, a null subject language with V2-effects in main clauses,
shows expletive subjects in different types of impersonal constructions (Arteaga 1994, Arteaga &
Herschensohn 2003, Bakker 1995). In contrast to null subject languages with ‘apparent’
expletives, these expletives are not necessarily linked to a topic position, but may also occur in
inverted position (1b) as well as in embedded clauses (1c):
Quant li jurz passet ed il fut anuit(i)et
when the day passed and it was night-fallen
Issi poet il ben estre?
so can it well be
L’andemain, lues qu’
il ajorne
li roi si lieve
the next day as soon as it day-breaks the king REF gets-up
(Old French)
(Old French)
(Old French)
In Modern French, where referential subject pronouns cannot be dropped, expletive pronouns
may or must lack in some specific types of impersonal constructions. This lack, however, cannot
be accounted for as the lack of expletives in German or Raetoromance, since their distribution is
completely different:
(Il) faut
qu’ il vienne.
it is necessary that he comes-SUBJ
Je (*l’) entends pleuvoir.
I it hear
(Kayne 1975, Olsson 1986)
(Modern French)
(Modern French)
On the basis of a more detailed analysis of these impersonal constructions, it will be argued that
the occurrence of empty expletives in Modern French can be explained by using Chomsky’s
(1981) distinction between expletives and quasi-arguments. As far as Old French is concerned, it
will be shown that it is quite difficult to explain the occurrence of lexical expletives by applying
this distinction and, therefore, to “save” Haider’s well-established parametric correlation.
Main and subordinate expletives and morphological leveling in French diachrony
Deborah Arteaga (UNLV Las Vegas) & Julia Herschensohn (UW Seattle)
In this paper we re-examine expletives in Old (OF) and Modern French (MF), languages that
differ parametrically with respect to the distribution of expletives and Case agreement, arguing
that it is the erosion of morphological endings from Latin to MF that leads to the obligatory
character of expletives in MF. We begin our discussion by examining the contrasting
distribution of expletives in OF and MF, focusing largely on subject-verb agreement patterns
and Case assignment in main and subordinate clauses. Considering the Latin predecessors of
these structures, we argue that leveling can first be seen in subordinate clauses, in which
expletive pronouns are generally found in OF. We situate our study in the framework of the
Minimalist Program (Chomsky 1995, 2000, 2001), using Koeneman & Neeleman’s (2001)
hierarchy of morphological ‘wealth’. The minimalist approach is motivated by morphological
features, so the richness of overt morphology will determine the options for syntactic
displacement or the necessity of overt subjects. In deriving the syntax from the morphology of
the language, so to speak, the more feature-laden the overt morphology, the greater will be the
options for syntactic flexibility in movement or null elements. After reviewing the previous
analysis of Arteaga (1994), we show how the loss of overt morphology licensing more flexible
word order in Latin and OF led to the fixed word order of MF and to the necessity of overt
subjects. Finally, we argue that progressive morphological leveling from Latin to Old French
and to Modern French is the primary catalyst for the development of expletive pronouns. We
argue that this leveling can first be seen in subordinate clauses, in which expletive pronouns
are generally found in OF.
Overt expletives in European Portuguese
Ernestina Carrilho (UL Lisboa)
The long-standing correlation between null subject properties and the lack of overt expletives
is challenged by empirical facts that make it clear that some null subject languages do allow
overt nominative pronouns in impersonal constructions. This talk concerns the distribution of
overt expletives in (non-standard) European Portuguese, a null subject language, on the basis
of which it will be suggested that such expletives (latu sensu) may be analysed as a discourse
device relating not only to the subject position but also to discourse-related positions in the left
periphery of the sentence.
It has often been observed that languages allowing for null referential subjects, such as
European Portuguese, do not have overt expletives (Rizzi 1982, 1986, i.a.). This empirical
correlation parallels the well-known generalization about null subjects in natural language:
conditions on the licensing of null subjects are less strict for expletive subjects than for
argumental ones. Accordingly, not only so-called null subject languages but also some nonnull subject languages admit non-overt expletives (e.g. Icelandic and German – see Platzack
1996 i.a.). Overt expletives, in turn, are obligatory only in languages having obligatory overt
referential subjects (e.g. English). Thus, different instantiations of the generative framework
have analyzed overt expletives as a structural linguistic device strictly connected with some
visibility requirement on the subject position (Chomsky 1981 and subsequent work).
Evidence from (non-standard) varieties of some null subject languages has however revealed
that overt expletives do occur in such languages (e.g., among Romance languages, Spanish,
Catalan, Galician, European Portuguese – Bosque & Demonte 1999, Solà et al. 2002, Alvarez
et al. 1986, Uriagereka 1995). These seem to be in most cases optional rather than an
obligatory syntactic device. The gist of this talk is to differentiate between such expletives and
English-type obligatory subject expletives.
On the basis of data drawn from a dialectal corpus of spoken European Portuguese, it will be
shown that overt expletives appear in this language in an extremely wide spectrum of
constructions, which extend far beyond impersonal constructions. Elaborating on the
peripheral/periphery-related status of overt expletives in European Portuguese, it will be
suggested that overt expletives in EP depend on discourse motivated conditions that determine
their presence both in subject position and in peripheral positions.
Expletive ello and ensuing structures in Dominican Spanish
Almeida Jacqueline Toribio (Penn State, University Park)
General Spanish allows for the expression of null subject pronouns, as determined by the
informational requirements of the larger discourse encoded by properties in the area of the left
periphery; however, non-/quasi-referential subjects are necessarily null, licensed in the core IP
field of the syntax (Ordóñez 1997, Rizzi 1997, Roselló 2000, De Crousaz & Shlonsky 2003).
In Dominican Spanish (and as an emergent property of other Caribbean varieties), referential
subject pronouns may be expressed without conveying additional information, a possibility
that may be accounted for by reference to variability or indeterminacy in the area of the
interpretive module (Sorace 2004a, b; Toribio et al. 2004). However, the appearance of
expletive subjects cannot be similarly motivated; rather, it speaks to alterations in the syntax,
an explanation which, by parsimony, should likewise be afforded to the licensing of overt
referential counterparts (Toribio 2001). The present paper examines the consequences of the
syntactic restructuring that is reflected in the expletive pronoun ello in the dialect at issue,
devoting special attention to word order, binding, and the realization of lexical argument
structures; the paper also entertains implications for diachrony and acquisition.
The neuter pronoun ello in impersonal constructions in Dominican Spanish
Marc-Olivier Hinzelin (Konstanz)
The Spanish neuter pronoun ello is used in the Dominican dialect in various constructions in a
way it never occurs in Standard Iberian Spanish (Henríquez Ureña 1939, 1940/1975; Jiménez
Sabater 1975; Toribio 1993, 1996, 2000; Silva-Villar 1998; González Tapia 2001). Among
others, it occurs in a preverbal position in impersonal constructions, similar to the French
expletive il:
(1) Dom. Sp. ello ta lloviendo (Pérez-Leroux 1999: 108)
il pleut
it is raining
(2) ello parece que no hay azúcar (Toribio: 1996: 422)
il paraît qu’il n’y a pas de sucre
‘it seems that there is no sugar’ (it seems there is no sugar)
(3) ello hay muchos mangos este año (Toribio 1996: 422)
il y a beaucoup de mangues cette année
there are many mangoes this year
(4) ello llegan guaguas hasta allá (Toribio 1996: 422)
il arrivent des cars jusque là
‘there arrive buses to there’ (buses reach there)
Under the assumption of the null subject parameter in Principles & Parameter Theory, this
usage contradicts the correlation between null subjects and null expletives and received
attention among generative researchers for the first time in the case of Galician (and
Portuguese) variants (Raposo & Uriagereka 1990).
A recent survey on grammaticality judgements of ello constructions by Dominican speakers
supports its use in a wide range of different constructions and in various parts of the country.
Nevertheless, in contrast to the obligatory use of expletives in non-null subject languages like
French, the use of ello is always optional in Dominican Spanish. This and its occurrence in
other constructions where it cannot be analyzed as subject lead to the conclusion that it has not
the function of an expletive subject pronoun but that of a discourse marker.
(5) ello veremos (Henríquez Ureña 1940/1975: 227)
‘it we-see’ (let’s see)
(6) ello sí (Henríquez Ureña 1940/1975: 228)
‘it yes’ (surely)
Its relatively frequent use in impersonal constructions in Dominican Spanish can be explained
by the preverbal void and by the reticence of speakers to use V1-sentences. Hence, ello is used
to fill the preverbal position and expresses emphasis, speaker attitude, etc. An evolution from
a pronoun to a discourse marker has already been attested (Yap, Matthews & Horie 2004). A
future reanalysis as expletive though is not excluded given the fact that Dominican Spanish
shows a gradual loss of null subjects similar to Brazilian Portuguese and Old/Middle French.
Theories of expletive creation predict this possible development (Faarlund 1990, Silva-Villar
1996 [1999]).
Faarlund, J. T. (1990): Syntactic change. Toward a theory of historical syntax. Berlin: Mouton
de Gruyter.
González Tapia, C. (2001): [El] habla campesina dominicana. [(Aspecto morfosintáctico).]
Español dominicano IV. Santo Domingo: Editora Universitaria – UASD.
Henríquez Ureña, P. (1939): “Ello” Revista de Filología Hispánica 1(3): 209-229.
Henríquez Ureña, P. (11940/21975): El español en Santo Domingo. Santo Domingo: Taller.
Jiménez Sabater, M. A. (1975): Más datos sobre el español de la República Dominicana.
Santo Domingo: Intec.
Pérez-Leroux, A. T. (1999): “Innovación sintáctica en el español del Caribe y los principios de
la gramática universal” In: L. A. Ortiz López [(ed.)], El Caribe hispánico: perspectivas
lingüísticas actuales. Frankfurt am Main/Madrid: Vervuert/Iberoamericana, 99-118.
Raposo, E. & Uriagereka, J. (1990): “Long-distance Case assignment” Linguistic Inquiry 21:
Silva-Villar, L. (1996 [1999]): “The diachronic syntax of expletive creation” Anuario del
Seminario de Filología Vasca «Julio de Urquijo» (ASJU)/International Journal of Basque
Linguistics and Philology 30(1): 173-193.
Silva-Villar, L. (1998): “Subject positions and the roles of CP” In: A. Schwegler, B. Tranel &
M. Uribe-Etxebarria (eds), Romance linguistics. Theoretical perspectives. Amsterdam:
Benjamins, 247-270.
Toribio, A. J. (1993): Parametric variation in the licensing of nominals. Ph.D., Cornell U.
Toribio, A. J. (1996): “Dialectal variation in the licensing of null referential and expletive
subjects” In: C. Parodi, C. Quicoli, M. Saltarelli & M. L. Zubizarreta (eds), Aspects of
Romance linguistics. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown U. P., 409-432.
Toribio, A. J. (2000): “Setting parametric limits on dialectal variation in Spanish” Lingua 10:
Yap, F. H., Matthews, St. & Horie, K. (2004): “From pronominalizer to pragmatic marker” In:
O. Fischer, M. Norde & H. Perridon (eds), Up and down the cline – the nature of
grammaticalization. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 137- 168.
Expletives in Germanic and clause structure
Ellen Brandner (Konstanz)
In this talk, I will discuss the distribution of expletives in Germanic. As is well known, the
Germanic languages vary to a great extent w.r.t. (i) which kind of expletive is used (pronountype, adverbial-type) and (ii) in which positions it shows up (subject-position, higher position).
Recent proposals use Rizzi’s split-CP analysis which provides several positions with different
properties as target positions for expletives resp. the finite verb. There are various proposals
which differ in their technical execution, e.g. Platzack (1998), Boeckx (2002), but which all
assume that expletives check some feature, e.g. the EPP feature. This presupposes that the
positions in question possess the value of the feature from the beginning of the derivation. I
will show in this talk that the different properties and surface positions of expletives can be
accounted for rather easily if one adopts a dynamic view on the expansion of the clause. This
means that verb-movement (and also expletive insertion) is not taken as being triggered by
feature checking (to already existing positions), but rather as “self-attachment” of the verb. It
depends then on the actual morphological endowment of the verb whether a specifier – filled
with appropriate material – will be necessary in order to identify the relevant values (e.g. of
finiteness, force etc.). Expletive insertion can then nevertheless also be taken as a last resort
mechanism but the EPP feature can be abandoned – which is desirable from a conceptual point
of view.
On the syntactic status of German es as a correlate of embedded clauses
Stefan Sudhoff (Leipzig)
This talk deals with occurrences of es serving as correlates of extraposed embedded clauses in
German complex sentences, as exemplified in (1) and (2). These elements are often assumed
to be expletives, cf. Safir (1985), Tomaselli (1986), Bayer & Suchsland (1997), among others.
es stimmt, dass Fred krank ist
it is true that F. ill
Fred es bedauert, dass er krank ist
F. it regrets that he ill
I will argue that es is not an expletive (as defined by Chomsky 1995:155) in these cases,
because it has the status of an argument and is case-marked. An alternative analysis will be
proposed, assuming that the correlate-es is the head of an argument-DP and takes the
embedded clause as a complement at deep structure, which has to be extraposed in the course
of the derivation.
This analysis can account for the fact that some clause-embedding matrix verbs (like
behaupten ‘to claim’) do not allow the use of es: these verbs cannot take complex DPs as their
arguments, but embed argument-CPs directly. It will be shown that this distinction
corresponds to a number of related differences in the syntactic properties of the two types of
matrix verbs already observed by Pütz (1986).
In order to support the proposed analysis the following questions will have to be answered:
Why are embedded clauses able to escape their DP-shells by means of extraposition, while
DPs constitute barriers for movement in other cases? Why do they even have to be extraposed
and cannot occur together with es in the German pre- or middlefield? And finally, why do
matrix verbs which are usually incompatible with correlate-es seem to allow them under
certain information structural conditions?
Bayer, Josef & Peter Suchsland (1997): Expletiva und leere Subjekte im Deutschen.
Groninger Arbeiten zur germanistischen Linguistik 41: 12-38.
Chomsky, Noam (1995): The Minimalist Program. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Pütz, Herbert (1986): Über die Syntax der Pronominalform »es« im modernen Deutsch. 2nd
edition. Tübingen: Gunter Narr.
Safir, Ken (1985): “Missing Subjects in German” In: Toman, Jindr&ich (ed.):
Studies in German Grammar. Dordrecht: Foris, 193-229.
Tomaselli, Alessandra (1986): “Das unpersönliche „es“ – Eine Analyse im Rahmen der
Generativen Grammatik” Linguistische Berichte 102: 171-190.
Notes on the status of subjects and expletives in connection with word order
Josef Bayer (Konstanz)
Certain languages insist on at least a formal presence of a subject, others do not. In impersonal
passives, for instance, Dutch, Icelandic, Swedish and other languages require an expletive
element in subject position. This is not the case in Bangla, German, Turkish, and numerous
other languages. Languages of the latter group often lack a lexical element that would serve as
an expletive altogether. German has two lexical candidates, es (‘it’) and da (‘there’). Both are
at best optional, a state of affairs which gives rise to the question what their status as
expletives could potentially be, and what function they may serve.
The presentation will lay out a scenario in which languages have at least two ways of
introducing a subject:
by virtue of a functional head that gives rise to a functionally defined specifier
by virtue of a number of semantic of discourse-functional criteria as delivered by
argument structure, various “hierarchies” and principles of topic-focus articulation
which may yield a division between an external argument and its predicate.
It will be argued that (ii) is the more basic and perhaps universal way of subject licensing,
while (i) is the result of the presence of an initial functional head (which may be the trigger of
head-initiality in general). In terms of word order, German is a messy language. It has various
head-first properties but insists on a head-final V-projection. Speculations will be made why
German may show expletive elements in the first place and how their status can be assessed.