Research Paper

Preverbal subjects in null subject languages are not necessarily dislocated


In recent work on null subject languages it has been claimed that preverbal subjects are always (clitic-)left dislocated. In this paper, we argue against this claim, on the grounds of empirical evidence from European Portuguese concerning agreement facts, asymmetries between preverbal subjects and clitic-left dislocated XPs with respect to minimality effects, the existence of languages with a mixed system (null expletive subjects and full referential ones), language acquisition data, the behavior of negative QPs and interpretation facts, and propose a non-uniform analysis of preverbal subjects and clitic-left dislocated XPs that derives their topic interpretation from a predication rule stated configurationally (section 2). Our account of the SVO and VSO orders displayed in European Portuguese relies on a specific formulation of the EPP parameter, on the locality constraint Attract Closest X and on the independently motivated claim that V-movement targets T in European Portuguese (section 3). Under our analysis, the computational system generates equally economical SVO and VSO derivations and discourse considerations, at the appropriate interface, rule out the unfelicitous ones.

How to Cite

Costa J. & Duarte I., (2002) “Preverbal subjects in null subject languages are not necessarily dislocated”, Journal of Portuguese Linguistics 1(2), p.159-175. doi:







João Costa (FCSH, Universidade de Nova de Lisboa, Portugal)
Inês Duarte (Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal)





Creative Commons Attribution 4.0


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