Expression of anaphoric subjects in Vera'a: Functional and structural factors in the choice between pronoun and zero

Stefan Schnell, Danielle Barth

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    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.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)267 - 291
    JournalLanguage Variation and Change
    Volume32
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2021

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