The Empty Object Construction and related phenomena
This thesis treats a series of constructions containing unexpressed arguments that exhibit traits of null pronouns, but that resist analysis as standard null pronouns. The Norwegian Empty Object Construction (EOC) combines a complete clause with a conjunct that contains an unexpressed object. The fact that this object receives an E-type reading when associated with a quantified NP forces the conclusion that it is indeed a null pronoun. It cannot be considered a standard null pronoun, however, since it cannot occur outside of a non-initial conjunct and is constrained in its reference. The Baule Empty Subject Construction (ESC), elsewhere called a Serial Verb Construction, is shown to be a covert clausal coordination involving a non-initial conjunct containing unexpressed arguments demonstrating these same characteristics. Additionally, in both EOC and ESC the conjuncts must match in polarity and in Tense/Aspect/Mode marking. Adverbial modification of the non-initial conjunct is limited. Unexpressed arguments are barred from sentential complements and from conjuncts with overt subjects. The characteristics of EOC/ESC are shown to be captured by an account under which the unexpressed arguments are null pronouns licensed by reference recovery via an interpretational procedure, the Coupling Mechanism. The Coupling Mechanism uses an antecedent clause to derive a definite description constrained to pick out a unique discourse referent. A null pronoun must occupy a maximal position in its clause in order to access the necessary antecedent clause. The account is shown, with slight modification, to apply to the Dutch/German SLF construction, a construction in which a nominal that is not sentence initial serves as the subject of two clausal conjuncts. It is argued that, alongside the more standardly assumed adjunction structure, SLF can be based on a coordination structure in which the unexpressed subject of the second conjunct is a null pronoun licensed by the Coupling Mechanism. The account is also extended to a case of an unexpressed argument in an adjunct, the Dutch/German Adjunct Object Gap (AOG), commonly analyzed in the literature as a parasitic gap. Under the alternate account proposed here, the AOG is a bound null pronoun licensed by the Coupling Mechanism.
Germanic languages; Baule language; Kwa languages; serial verb construction; clausal coordination; null pronouns; null objects; Norwegian language; German language; Dutch language
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