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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton March 25, 2014

Preverbal subjects in Galician: Experimental data in the A vs. A′ debate

Timothy Gupton
From the journal Probus


The debate over whether preverbal subjects of transitive verbs are canonical or non-canonical elements in Iberian Romance and other null-subject languages over the past twenty-plus years has arguably left the field of Generative syntax at an impasse with respect to the issue. Researchers have argued quite convincingly that preverbal subjects are non-canonical, non-argument (A′) constituents (e.g. Barbosa 1996, 2000; Ordóñez and Treviño 1999; Uribe-Etxebarria 1992, 1995), while others have presented equally compelling evidence supporting the analysis of preverbal subjects as canonical argument (A) constituents (e.g. Costa 2004; Goodall 2001). The results of this debate are of great theoretical importance, as they been claimed to have implications for the universality of the EPP and its associated feature(s). In this paper, I present evidence for Galician in the spirit of previous research and show that, with respect to the standard syntactic tests of A-versus A′-status for preverbal subjects in the literature, Galician is also inconclusive. I discuss how an experimental methodology incorporating a structured discourse context may provide greater insight on the issue and, assuming López's (2009) analysis of CLLD elements, present evidence suggesting that preverbal subjects are not left-peripheral, A′-elements in the discourse contexts examined in Galician, but rather A-elements.

Published Online: 2014-3-25
Published in Print: 2014-5-1

©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston