Czech analytic agreement and the characteristics of little pro

Ludmila Veselovská 1
  • 1 Palacký University, Olomouc, Czech Republic
Ludmila Veselovská


This study deals with subject predicate agreement in Czech and the structure of a null subject. First, it introduces the concept of Null Subject Languages as it has been used in a generative framework. Then it shows the complex feature content of the Czech subject-predicate agreement morphology, arguing that the data repeatedly signal a division of the agreement features into two clear cut feature sets and two distinct agreement domains: (a) the lower, lexical domain inside vP containing the nominal n[±φ] feature set (Gender and N-Number), and (b) the higher, functional domain on the T head, which contains the functional D[±φ] feature set (Person and D-Number). The study relates the analysis to the present day microparametric concept of a Null Subject Parameter as in, e. g., the studies in Biberauer (2010), accepting the hypothesis of the checking of the subject-predicate agreement with two levels of predicate (separate heads v and T). It proposes that with pronominal subjects, the φ feature values can be re-set with respect to the speech act information located in the Aboutness Topic. Given the several levels of agreement, each of which can be licensed by a zero morpheme, the study proposes that pro is a complex entity consisting of two separate parts, each endowed with a distinct set of φ features.

  • Akmajian, Adrian, et al. 2013 [1984]. Linguistics: An Introduction to Language and Communication. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Alexiadou, Artemis. 2006. Uniform and Non-uniform Aspects of Pro-drop Languages. In P. Ackema, P. Brandt, M. Schoorlemmer & F. Weerman (eds.), Arguments and Agreement, 127–158. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Baker, Mark C. 1985. The Mirror Principle and Morphosyntactic Explanation. In Linguistic Inquiry 16 (3), 373–415.

  • Baker, Mark C. 1988. Incorporation: A Theory of Grammatical-Function Changing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Barbosa, Pilar. 2018. Pro as a Minimal NP: Towards a Unified Theory of ‘Pro’-drop. See . Last accessed October 21, 2019.

  • Biberauer, Theresa, et al. (eds). 2010. Parametric Variation: Null Subjects in Minimalist Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Bonet, Eulalia. 1991. Morphology after Syntax: Pronominal Clitics in Romance Languages. PhD dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

  • Borer, Hagit. 1984. Parametric Syntax: Case Studies in Semitic and Romance Languages. Dordrecht: Foris Publications.

  • Brown, Roger & Albert Gillman. 1960. The Pronouns of Power and Solidarity. In T. A. Sebeok, (ed.), Style in Language, 235–276. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press.

  • Chomsky, Noam. 1981. Lectures on Government and Binding. Dordrecht: Foris.

  • Chomsky, Noam. 1982. Concepts and Consequences of the Theory of Government and Binding. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press.

  • Chomsky, Noam. 1991. Some Notes on Economy of Derivation and Representation. In R. Freidin (ed.), Principles and Parameters in Comparative Grammar, 417–454. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Chomsky, Noam. 1993. A Minimalist Program for Linguistic Theory. In K. Hale & S. J. Keyser (eds.), The View from Building 20: Essays in Linguistics in Honor of Sylvain Bromberger, 1–52. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press.

  • Chomsky, Noam. 2014. Lecture Series. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, March-May.

  • Corbett, Greville G. 2006. Agreement. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Corbett, Greville G. 2012. Features. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • D’Alessandro, Roberta. 2014. The Null Subject Parameter: Where Are We and Where Are We Headed? Master’s thesis, Leiden University Centre for Linguistics.

  • Emonds, Joseph E. 1987. The Invisible Category Principle. In Linguistic Inquiry 18, 613–632.

  • Emonds, Joseph E. 2000. Lexicon and Grammar: The English Syntacticon. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

  • Emonds, Joseph E. 2012. Blackjack! 21 Arguments that Agreeing Adjectives are Derived Nominals. In E. Torrego (ed.), Of Grammar, Words and Verses: In Honor of Carlos Piera, 171–200. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  • Gilligan, Gary Martin. 1987. A Crosslinguistic Approach to Prodrop Parameter. PhD. dissertation, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

  • Halle, Morris. 1997. Distributed Morphology: Impoverishment and Fission. In B. Bruening, Y. Kang & M. McGinnis (eds.), Papers at the Interface. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press.

  • Holmberg, Anders. 2005. Is There a Little Pro? Evidence from Finnish. In Linguistic Inquiry 36, 533–564.

  • Holmberg Anders. 2010. Null subject parameters. In T. Biberauer, A. Holmberg, I. Roberts & M. Sheehan (eds.), Parametric variation: null subjects in minimalist theory, 88–124. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Huang, C.-T. James. 1984. On the Distribution and Reference of Empty Pronouns. In Linguistic Inquiry 15, 531–574.

  • Jaeggli, Osvaldo & Ken Safir (eds.). 1989. The Null Subject Parameter. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

  • Jensen, Britta. 2003. Imperatives in English and Scandinavian. Ph.D. dissertation, Oxford University.

  • Kayne, Richard S. 1980. Extensions of Binding and Case-Marking. In Linguistic Inquiry 11, 74–96.

  • Kosta, Peter. 1990. Zur formalen Lizenzierung und inhaltlichen Determination leerer Subjekte im Russischen. In W. Breu (ed.), Slavistische Linguistik 1989: Referate des XV. Konstanzer Slavistischen Arbeitstreffens Bayreuth 18.–22.9.1989, 117–165. München: Verlag Otto Sagner.

  • Kosta, Peter. 1992. Leere Kategorien in den nordslavischen Sprachen. Zur Analyse leerer Subjekte und leerer Objekte in der Rektions-Bindungs-Theorie. Habilschrift. J. W. Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main.

  • Kosta, Peter. 1995/1996. Empty Categories, Null-Subjects and Null-Objects and How to Treat Them in the Minimalist Program. Ms. Lecture Univ. of Chicago, IL/ 8 November 1996. In Linguistics in Potsdam Series 2 (3), 7–38.

  • Kosta, Peter. 2001. Negace a větná struktura v češtině. In Čeština – univerzália a specifika 3, 117–138.

  • Kosta, Peter. (In prep.). The Syntax of Meaning and Meaning of Syntax: Minimal Computations and Maximal Derivations within a Label-/Phase-Based Approach of Radical Minimalism. To appear in Potsdam Linguistic Investigations.

  • Krivochen, Diego G. & Peter Kosta. 2013. Eliminating Empty Categories: A Radically Minimalist View on their Ontology and Justification. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.

  • Kučerová, Ivona. 2000. K subjektpredikátové shodě v češtině. Master’s thesis, Charles University.

  • Kučerová, Ivona. 2014. The Syntax of Null Subjects. In Syntax 17 (2). 132–167.

  • Lindsay, Wallace M. (ed.). 1991 [1904]. T. Macci Plauti Comoediae, vol. 1. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  • Longobardi, Giuseppe. 2008. Reference to Individuals, Person, and the Variety of Mapping Parameters. In A. Klinge & H. Müller (eds.), Essays on Nominal Determination: From Morphology to Discourse Management, 189–211. Amsterdam: Johns Benjamins.

  • Montalbetti, Mario. 1986. How Pro Is It? In O. Jaeggli & C. Silva-Corvalan (eds.), Studies in Romance Linguistics, 137–152. Dordrecht: Foris.

  • Nevins, Andrew & Jeffrey K. Parrott. 2010. Variable Rules Meet Impoverishment Theory: Patterns of Agreement Leveling in English Varieties. In Lingua 120 (5), 113–159.

  • Noyer, Rolf. 1998. Impoverishment Theory and Morphosyntactic Markedness. In S. Lapointe, D. Brentari & P. Farrell (eds.), Morphology and its Relation to Phonology and Syntax, 264–285. Stanford: CSLI.

  • Panevová, Jarmila & Vladimír Petkevič. 1997. Agreement in Czech and Its Formal Account. In U. Junghanns & G. Zybatow (eds), Formale Slavistic, 321–333. Frankfurt am Main: Vervuert Verlag.

  • Parrott, Jeffrey K. 2015. Gender Impoverishment in Czech, Slavic, and Beyond. In M. Ziková, P. Caha & M. Dočekal (eds.), Slavic Languages in the Perspective of Formal Grammar, 215–232. Berlin: Peter Lang.

  • Perlmutter, David. 1971. Deep and Surface Constraints in Syntax. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

  • Pesetsky, David. 2013. Russian Case Morphology and the Syntactic Categories. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press.

  • Richards, Mark. 2014. Defective Agree, Case Alterations, and the Prominence of Person. In I. Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, A. Malchukov & M. Richards (eds.), Scales and Hierarchies, 173–196. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

  • Rizzi, Luigi. 1982. Issues in Italian Syntax. Dordrecht: Foris.

  • Rizzi, Luigi. 1986. Null Objects in Italian and the Theory of Pro. In Linguistic Inquiry 17, 501–557.

  • Roberts, Ian & Anders Holmberg. 2010. Introduction. In T. Biberauer, A. Holmberg, I. Roberts & M. Sheehan, Parametric Variation: Null Subjects in Minimalist Theory, 1–56. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Saito, Mamoru. 2007. Notes on East Asian Argument Ellipsis. In Language Research 43, 203–227.

  • Shlonsky, Ur. 2014. Referential Third Person Null Subjects in Hebrew. In Brill’s Journal of Annual of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics 6, 27–44.

  • Taraldsen, Knut T. 1980. On the Nominative Island Constraint, Vacuous Application and the That Trace Filter. Bloomington: Indiana University Linguistic Circle.

  • Tomioka, Satoshi. 2003. The Semantics of Japanese Null Pronouns and Its Cross-linguistic Implications. In K. Schwabe & S. Winkler (eds.), The Interfaces Deriving and Interpreting Omitted Structures, 321–339. Amsterdam: Johns Benjamins.

  • Veselovská, Ludmila. 2002. Struktura subjektpredikátové shody. In Z. Hladká & P. Karlík (eds.), Čeština – univerzália a specifika 4, 199–212. Brno: Masaryk University.

  • Veselovská, Ludmila. 2004. The Extended Verbal Projection in Czech: Three Variants of the Verb Be. In G. Zybatow, L. Szucsich, U. Junghanns & R. Meyer (eds.), Formal Description of Slavic Languages: The Fifth Conference, Leipzig 2003, 555–569. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.

  • Veselovská, Ludmila. 2014. The Universal DP Analysis in Articleless Languages: A Case Study in Czech. In L. Veselovská & M. Janebová (eds.), Nominal Structures: All in Complex DPs., 12–28. Olomouc: Palacký University.

  • Veselovská, Ludmila. 2018. Noun Phrases in Czech: Their Structure and Agreements. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.

  • Veselovská, Ludmila & Petr Karlík. 2004. Analytic Passives in Czech. In Zeitschrift für Slavistik 49 (2), 163–243.

  • Vikner, Sten. 1995. Verb Movement and Expletive Subjects in the Germanic Languages. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Wechsler, Stephen & Larisa Zlatić. 2003. The Many Faces of Agreement. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

  • Williams, Edwin. 1981. Argument Structure and Morphology. In The Linguistic Review 1, 81–114.

  • Williams, Edwin. 1994. Thematic Structure in Syntax. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Zanuttini, Raffaella. 2008. Microcomparative Syntax in English Verbal Agreement. Presentation at NELS 39, November.

Purchase article
Get instant unlimited access to the article.
Log in
Already have access? Please log in.

Log in with your institution

Journal + Issues

Zeitschrift für Slawistik publishes critical essays on languages and literatures, popular poetry, and the cultural history of Slavic peoples in the past and present. Special attention is paid to German-Slavic linguistics, literary and cultural relations within their European context, onomastics, history and poetology of literary genres, Baltic studies, Sorbian studies, and the history of Slavic studies.