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Agreement syncretisation and the loss of null subjects : quantificational models for Medieval French

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Abstract
This paper examines the nature of the dependency between the availability of null subjects and the ``richness'' of verbal subject agreement, known as Taraldsen's Generalisation (\citealt{Taraldsen:1980}, \citealt{Rizzi:1986}, \citealt{Adams:1987}), from the point of view of grammar change in Medieval French based on corpus data. We present a corpus-based quantitative model of the syncretisation of verbal subject agreement spanning the whole Medieval French period and evaluate two hypotheses relating agreement and null subjects: one relating the two as reflexes of the same grammatical property and a variational learning-based hypothesis whereby phonology-driven ending syncretization creates a learning bias against the null subject grammar. We show that only the latter approach has the potential to reconcile the intuition behind Taraldsen's Generalisation with the fact that it has proven non-trivial to formulate the notion of agreement richness in a way which would unequivocally predict whether a language has null subjects.

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Chicago
Simonenko, Alexandra, Benoît Crabbé, and Sophie Prévost. 2019. “Agreement Syncretisation and the Loss of Null Subjects : Quantificational Models for Medieval French.” Language Variation and Change.
APA
Simonenko, A., Crabbé, B., & Prévost, S. (2019). Agreement syncretisation and the loss of null subjects : quantificational models for Medieval French. LANGUAGE VARIATION AND CHANGE.
Vancouver
1.
Simonenko A, Crabbé B, Prévost S. Agreement syncretisation and the loss of null subjects : quantificational models for Medieval French. LANGUAGE VARIATION AND CHANGE. 2019;
MLA
Simonenko, Alexandra, Benoît Crabbé, and Sophie Prévost. “Agreement Syncretisation and the Loss of Null Subjects : Quantificational Models for Medieval French.” LANGUAGE VARIATION AND CHANGE (2019): n. pag. Print.
@article{8544628,
  abstract     = {This paper examines the nature of the dependency between the availability of null subjects and the ``richness'' of verbal subject agreement, known as Taraldsen's Generalisation ({\textbackslash}citealt\{Taraldsen:1980\}, {\textbackslash}citealt\{Rizzi:1986\}, {\textbackslash}citealt\{Adams:1987\}), from the point of view of grammar change in Medieval French based on corpus data. We present a corpus-based quantitative model of the syncretisation of verbal subject agreement spanning the whole Medieval French period and evaluate two hypotheses relating agreement and null subjects: one relating the two as reflexes of the same grammatical property and a variational learning-based hypothesis whereby phonology-driven ending syncretization creates a learning bias against the null subject grammar. We show that only the latter approach has the potential to reconcile the intuition behind Taraldsen's Generalisation with the fact that it has proven non-trivial to formulate the notion of agreement richness in a way which would unequivocally predict whether a language has null subjects.
},
  author       = {Simonenko, Alexandra and Crabb{\'e}, Beno{\^i}t and Pr{\'e}vost, Sophie},
  issn         = {0954-3945},
  journal      = {LANGUAGE VARIATION AND CHANGE},
  language     = {eng},
  title        = {Agreement syncretisation and the loss of null subjects : quantificational models for Medieval French},
  year         = {2019},
}