The choice between a pronoun and zero anaphor for the expression of third-person subjects is examined in a corpus of Vera'a (Oceanic). While predominantly expressed by a pronoun, subjects are found to permit zero form with referents that have low anaphoric distance. Within this context, zero is found to be preferred with a subset of verbal predicates that take a specific tense-aspect-mood-polarity (TAMP) marker that historically retains subject agreement. The strong preference for pronouns is related to the clitic behavior of adjacent TAMP morphology and the rudimentarity of agreement. Animacy and number also bear on subject variation. Effects of clause-combining and the use of connectives do not align with findings from studies of the same choice in other languages. Our findings underscore the prominent role of purely structural over functional motivations for the choice of pronouns over zero.
|Pages (from-to)||267 - 291|
|Journal||Language Variation and Change|
|Publication status||Published - 2021|