The VOS Puzzle
The subject (S) in Spanish sentences may appear post–verbally and even sentence–finally following an object (O). Further, in post–verbal SO/OS pairs, the first element asymmetrically c–commands the second element. Previous analyses of the VOS phenomenon encounter difficulties in accounting for this asymmetric c–command relation and/or for Case and subject–verb agreement involving the VOS subject. We argue here that these Spanish SO/OS pairs operate in parallel to English double–objects (Larson 1988). Based on the work of Phillips (1997) and others, we propose a top–down approach to sentence derivation which resolves the problems with VOS sentences encountered by other analyses and which obviates the need for devices such as pro to account for ‘pro–drop’ sentences.
Chesi, C. (2007). An introduction to phase-based minimalist grammars: Why move is top-down from left-to-right. Studies in Linguistics 1, pp. 49–90.
Chesi, C. (2015). On directionality of phrase structure building. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 44, pp. 65–89. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10936-014-9330-6
Chomsky, N. (2005). Three factors in language design. Linguistic Inquiry 36, pp. 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1162/0024389052993655
Chomsky, N. (2013). Problems of projection. Lingua 130, pp. 33–49. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2012.12.003
Chomsky, N. (2015). Problems of projection: Extensions, in E. Di Domenico, C. Hamann & S. Matteini (eds.), Structures, strategies, and beyond: Studies in honour of Adriana Belletti. Amsterdam, John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1075/la.223.01cho
Fernández-Soriano, O. (1999). ‘Two types of impersonal sentences in Spanish: Locative and dative subjects’, Syntax 2(2), pp. 101–140. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9612.00017
Goodall, G. (2001). The EPP in Spanish, in W.D. Davies & S. Dubinsky (eds.), Objects and other Subjects. Dordrecht, Kluwer , pp. 193–223. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-010-0991-1_8
Jaeggli, O. (1982). Topics in Romance syntax. Amsterdam, John Benjamins. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783112420225
Koopman, H. & D. Sportiche. (1991). The position of subjects. Lingua 85, pp. 211-285. https://doi.org/10.1016/0024-3841(91)90022-W
Larson, R. (1988). On the double–object construction. Linguistic Inquiry 19, pp. 335–391.
Leonetti, M. (2018). Two types of postverbal subject. Italian Journal of Linguistics 30.2, pp. 11–36.
Ordóñez, F. (1998). Post-verbal asymmetries in Spanish. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 16, pp. 313–346. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1006051703562
Phillips, C. (1996). Order & structure. PhD dissertation. Cambridge MA, MIT.
Phillips, C. (1997). Merge right: An approach to constituency conflicts. In B. Agbayani and S.-W. Tang (eds,), Proceedings of the 15th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics. Stanford (Cal.), CSLI Publications, pp. 381–395.
Rizzi, L. (1980). Negation, WH movement, and the Null Subject Parameter. ms., Universitá della Calabria, Cosenza, Italy.
Rizzi, L. (1982). Issues in Italian syntax. Berlin/Boston, de Gruyter Mouton. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110883718
Sheehan, M.(2010). ‘‘Free’ inversion in Romance and the Null Subject, in Parameter’, in Theresa Biberauer, Anders Holmberg, Ian Roberts &and Michelle Sheehan (eds.), Parametric Variation: Null Subjects in Minimalist Theory. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp. 231–262
Sobin, N. (2020). Directing syntactic traffic. Syntax 23, pp. 241–274. https://doi.org/10.1111/synt.12194
Suñer, M. (1994). V-Movement and the licensing of argumental Wh-phrases in Spanish. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 12, pp. 335-372. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00993148
Teixeira, J. (2016). ‘Locative inversion and stage topics: A cross-linguistic study’. Discours: Revue de linguistique, psycholinguistique et informatique 19. https://doi.org/10.4000/discours.9229
Torrego, E. (1984). On Inversion in Spanish and Some of its Effects. Linguistic Inquiry 15, pp. 103–129.
Zubizarreta, M.-L. (1998). Prosody, focus and word order. Cambridge, MA, MIT Press.
Zubizarreta, M.-L. (1999). Las funciones informativas: tema y foco. In Ignacio Bosque & Violeta Demonte (eds.), Gramática descriptiva de la lengua española. Madrid, RAE, pp. 4215–4244
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).