- Subjects, expletives, and the EPP ed. by Peter Svenonius
The book brings together seven chapters (and an introduction) dealing with the topic of subjecthood from a generative point of view. The chapters are (authors in parentheses): ‘Introduction’ (Peter Svenonius), ‘The que/qui alternation and the distribution of expletives’ (Knut Tarald Taraldsen), ‘Icelandic expletive constructions and the distribution of subject types (Øystein Alexander Vangsnes), ‘Expletives, subjects, and topics in Finnish’ (Anders Holmberg and Urpo Nikanne), The EPP in a topic-prominent language’ (Katalin É. Kiss), ‘The extended projection principle as a condition on the tense dependency (Ian Roberts and Anna Roussou), ‘Parameters of subject inflection in Italian dialects’ (M. Rita Manzini and Leonardo M. Savoia), and ‘Subject positions and the placement of adverbials’ (Peter Svenonius).
Svenonius (3–27) does justice to the scope and complexity of the topic in his outstanding introduction to the volume. Taraldsen (29–42) contrasts French with the Rhaeto-Romance variety Vallader to conclude that the que/qui alternation in the former boils down to the presence vs. absence of a numberless and genderless expletive subject (t)i, an idea subsequently examined in the face of French stylistic inversion, where qui is not possible. Vangsnes (43–70) examines in detail Icelandic transitive expletive constructions and the different positions the associate can occupy in them; he accounts for the facts by capitalizing on the difference between strong and weak case and a distinction between lexical and agreement features. Holmberg and Nikanne (71–105) look at Finnish subject and object fronting and the language’s expletive subjects and multiple subject constructions. They suggest that fronting is a reflex of a [–focus] feature interacting with a finiteness head; the syntactic differences between fronted subjects and fronted objects are taken to boil down to the fact that this head is inherently nominative. In a parallel manner, É. Kiss (107–24) draws on Hungarian evidence to recast the extended projection principle (EPP) as three independent principles governing the interaction between predication/quantification, topichood, and argumenthood. Roberts and Roussou (125–55) suggest a unification of the EPP with the typically Germanic verb-second (V2) property in terms of tense and complementizer forming a single domain and their need for each to be unambiguously identified by overt material. Manzini and Savoia (157–99) draw on Italian dialects to illustrate the necessity for multiple agreement projections as well as movement of aspectual/thematic features from the verbal domain to high base-generated subjects (and other arguments). Moreover, expletive-associate and doubling constructions are unified as instances of movement of aspectual/thematic features. In the last chapter, Svenonius (201–42) focuses on Germanic. He examines the positioning of adverbs, which are claimed to be adjuncts with their relative orderings constrained by semantics, and scrutinizes the semantic import of the different subject positions. The two threads come together as a proposed interaction between topichood and adverb adjunction.
This volume, although featuring some remarkable contributions to the issue, is uneven as far as the quality of its chapters is concerned, it is much narrower in scope than one would expect from the title, and it could certainly have covered more ground, at least by containing more chapters.