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Bookmark and Share Paper 3353

Taraldsen's Generalization in Diachrony: Evidence from a Diachronic Corpus
Alexandra Simonenko, Benoît Crabbé, and Sophie Prévost
462-469 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This paper examines the possibility of a dependency between the availability of null subjects and the "richness" of verbal subject agreement, known as Taraldsen's Generalisation, from the point of view of grammar change in Medieval French based on corpus data. The authors present the first large-scale quantitative investigation of the syncretisation of verbal subject agreement in Medieval French. They show that the emergence of syncretic endings and overt pronominal subjects proceeded at the same rate, which on the Constant Rate Hypothesis of Kroch (1989) is compatible with the analyses relating rich agreement and null subjects as parts of the same grammar (e.g., Rizzi 1986, Adams 1987, Alexiadou and Anagnostopoulou 1998, Roberts 2010, Sheehan to appear). However, the paper also shows that such analyses generate a number of predictions which are not borne out by the quantitative data. The authors suggest that a more complex model of interaction of subject and agreement parameters is needed.

Published in

Proceedings of the 34th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Aaron Kaplan, Abby Kaplan, Miranda K. McCarvel, and Edward J. Rubin
Table of contents
Printed edition: $410.00