Volume 9, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1571-0718
  • E-ISSN: 1571-0726
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This paper examines the variation between null and overt subject pronouns found in Romance null subject languages (NSL). While it is well known that several factors regulate the distribution between these two forms, it is also well known that not all null subject languages behave the same. The contexts in which null and overt subject pronouns are required or forbidden vary across dialects, as well as their rates. This paper examines such quantitative and qualitative differences and proposes two mechanisms to explain them. In the first place, a change in progress in some varieties is responsible for the qualitative and quantitative differences found. I apply Yang’s (2000) model of language change and show that NSLs can become non-NSLs only if there is enough migration, which is what happened in the varieties undergoing the change. In the second place, following Cameron (1992) and Cameron and Flores-Ferrán (2004), I claim that priming effects also play an important role in explaining the quantitative differences across several dialects.


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