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The Linguistic Review

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Volume 35, Issue 3


Reducing pro and PRO to a single source

Thomas McFadden / Sandhya Sundaresan
Published Online: 2018-09-11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/tlr-2018-0003


The goal of this paper is to provide novel theoretical and empirical evidence that the null subjects traditionally labelled as pro and pro, rather than being inherently distinct, are manifestations, differentiated in the course of the derivation, of what is underlyingly a single underspecified nominal pro-form, which we will call UPro. Included under this UPro are pro, oc pro and also the various types of ‘non-obligatory control’ (noc) pro, including arbitrary pro (proarb). The interpretive and distributional distinctions lurking behind these labels result from how UPro interacts with its structural environment and language-specific rules of morpho-phonological realization. Specifically, oc pro labels a rather specific interpretation that arises in embedding contexts where a syntactic oc relationship with an antecedent can be established. Different types of pro and noc pro, on the other hand, involve ‘control’ by (typically) silent representations of discourse-contextual elements in the clausal left periphery. Finally, proarb arguably involves the failure to establish a referential dependence, which we will formalize in terms of a failure to Agree in the sense of Preminger (2014). Crucial evidence motivating the approach proposed here will be adduced from Sundaresan’s (2014) “Finiteness pro-drop Generalisation”, which reveals an otherwise unexpected complementarity of oc pro and pro.

Keywords: pro; pro; control; oc; noc; finiteness; case; agree; left periphery


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About the article

Published Online: 2018-09-11

Published in Print: 2018-09-25

Citation Information: The Linguistic Review, Volume 35, Issue 3, Pages 463–518, ISSN (Online) 1613-3676, ISSN (Print) 0167-6318, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/tlr-2018-0003.

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