Article published in:Language Acquisition Beyond Parameters: Studies in honour of Juana M. Liceras
Edited by Anahí Alba de la Fuente, Elena Valenzuela and Cristina Martínez Sanz
[Studies in Bilingualism 51] 2016
► pp. 17–35
Pro-drop then and now
Changing perspectives on null subjects in second language acquisition
This paper provides an overview and analysis of changing perspectives on null subjects in L2 research. Three phases of research are identified, focusing on: (i) the issue of parameter resetting, conceived in terms of the null subject parameter as originally formulated; (ii) the relationship of null subjects to properties of functional features and associated morphology; (iii) discourse constraints on the realization of null and overt subjects. Conflicting data and theories are discussed, touching on the extent of transfer of null subjects from the L1, whether a parameter is involved, and what other properties might explain the distribution of null subjects in L2 grammars. Despite the lack of consensus, investigation of null subjects has provided fruitful insights into the nature of interlanguage grammars.
Keywords: null subjects, pro-drop parameter, parameter resetting, morphological uniformity, features, optional infinitives, root infinitives, syntax-discourse interface
Published online: 16 December 2016
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