The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 3/20 - Abdul-Razak Sulemana (MIT)

Speaker: Abdul-Razak Sulemana
Title: Obligatory Controlled Subjects in Buli
Date and time: Tuesday March 20, 1-2pm
Location: 32-D461

It has long been noted that PRO makes no contribution to PF, as it is phonetically null. Several approaches to control have been developed based on this conclusion. These theories could be put into two broad categories. Under one (Bresnan 1978, 1982, Chierchia 1984, Dowty 1985, Jackendoff and Culicover 2003, a.o) this has been taken as evidence that there is no syntactic representation of this element. Under the other (Chomsky 1981, Manzini 1983, Landau 2000, 2001, 2013, 2015 a.o) PRO is syntactically present but its nullness is due to the licensing properties of the controlled structure. In this paper, I present data from Buli a Mabia (Gur) language spoken in Sandema (Ghana) that argue against theories that deny the syntactic presence of PRO. I argue that Buli is a language where PRO is overtly expressed and conclude that phonetic nullness is not an inherent property of PRO.