The notion of a missing or understood subject of infinitive and other non-finite clauses has been the topic of a vast enterprise of syntactic research for more than thirty years. It has also increasingly become the focus for discussion in semantic domains, with the tendency to determine control relations by the lexical nature of the verbs within their scope. The present study addresses the topic from a functionalist, grammaticalisation perspective, examining some examples from Colloquial Singapore English (CSE) in which subject Control relations appear to be absent. Within such enquiry, it is questioned what implications such examples may have for definitions of subject Control under a grammaticalisation account, and the relation of subject Control to subject selection in the complement. It is hypothesised that the presence of subject Control implies that the controlled subject must be selected by the complement verb and that the subject selection properties of the complement verb are determined by the level of grammaticalisation of the main verb. Furthermore, the presence of topic-prominent, rather than subject-prominent sentence structure in CSE underlies the contact influence most likely to contribute to the apparently reduced semantic relations holding between the verb and subject for speakers of that dialect.
© Mouton de Gruyter – Societas Linguistica Europaea