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Linguistic Inquiry

Spring 2011, Vol. 42, No. 2, Pages 267-304
(doi: 10.1162/LING_a_00042)
© 2011 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Conditions on Argument Drop
Article PDF (2.22 MB)
Abstract

This article pursues the idea that null arguments are derived without any statement or parameter, instead following “naturally” from 3rd factor principles and effects (in the sense of Chomsky 2005). The article thus contributes to the program of eliminating statements in grammar in favor of general factors. More specifically, it develops a theory of C/edge linking in terms of syntactically active but silent C-features, where all referential definite arguments, overt and silent, must match these features in order to be successfully C/edge-linked (interpreted). On the approach pursued, radically silent arguments—such as Germanic zero topics and controlled 3rd person null subjects in Finnish—commonly raise across a lexical C (a complementizer or a verb-second (V2) verb) into the edge of the C-domain for the purpose of successful C/edge linking (circumventing C-intervention), thereby showing Ā-behavior not observed for other types of arguments (including the Romance type of pro). Silent arguments are universally available in syntax, whereas their C/edge linking is constrained by factors (such as Germanic V2) that may or may not be present or active in individual languages and constructions.