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Linguistic Inquiry

Summer 2003, Vol. 34, No. 3, Pages 413-442
(doi: 10.1162/002438903322247542)
© 2003 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Distribution of a Subject Clitic Pronoun in a Franco-Provençal Dialect and the Licensing of Pro
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We study the distribution of null subjects in one Franco-Provençal variety. These are possible in root declaratives, obligatory in embedded subject position, and impossible in root wh-questions as well as in the company of weather predicates. We approach null subjects indirectly, by investigating the distribution of one subject clitic, arguing that its optionality in some contexts is due to the possibility of moving pro to a peripheral topic position, where formal licensing is not required. We also discuss the circumstances in which an overt complementizer and a robustly inflected verb license pro, rendering the clitic redundant. The comparative interest of this dialect is that it reveals synchronically the three mechanisms of pro licensing available in Romance diachronically. These are (a) association with rich verbal inflection, (b) government by a complementizer, and (c) doubling by a clitic. We contend that the syntax is sensitive to the formal relationship between an XP and a head that these three mechanisms instantiate.