Variation in subject expression in Western Romance

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Syntactic-theoretic accounts report variation across languages on the availability of null pronominal subjects. As a result, languages are classified as null and non-null subject languages. However, the homogeneity or heterogeneity of null subject languages is not discussed. Variationist research, on the other hand, indicates that variation is attested across different varieties of null subject languages. This paper expands on this research comparing the distribution of null and overt pronominal subjects in two null subject Western Romance languages: Spanish and Catalan. Naturalistic data collected via sociolinguistic interviews in Valladolid and Minorca, Spain, were explored using a variationist approach, with a total of 7,025 tokens. The weight of eleven different internal factors relevant to this distribution were analyzed and ranked, revealing differences between the two languages. This variationist analysis succeeds in locating the contexts where the languages differ in their favoring of overt and null forms.


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