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Optional expletive subjects in Swedish

Journal article
Authors Elisabet Engdahl
Published in Nordic Journal of Linguistics
Volume 35
Issue 2
Pages 99-144
ISSN 0332-5865
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Swedish
Pages 99-144
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1017/s033258651200016...
Keywords expletive, EPP, quasi-argument, subject, Swedish, topicalization, topic drop, constructions
Subject categories Swedish language

Abstract

This article investigates the use of non-referential subjects in contemporary Swedish. Given that Swedish has developed a strong subject requirement, expletive subjects are expected to be used in all clauses which lack a referential subject. In spoken Swedish, however, expletive and quasi-argument subjects are optional in utterances where there is an initial det 'it' which is linked to an empty position inside a finite or non-finite complement. The paper establishes that there are certain similarities between these examples and tough constructions but that the examples involving finite complements cannot be subsumed under a predication analysis which seems appropriate for the tough cases. Based on a number of authentic recorded examples, I discuss the processing of utterances with fronted anaphoric pronouns and point to certain similarities with parasitic gaps. The paper closes with a comparison with other Germanic languages.

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