Subjecthood and Agreement

  • Eric Haeberli
Part of the Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory book series (SNLT, volume 54)


A standard assumption that has been made in the generative literature is that subjecthood can be defined in structural terms. Within pre-X’-frameworks, subjects have been argued to occupy the structurally most prominent NP position, i.e. the NP position which is immediately dominated by S ([NP, S], cf. Chomsky 1965:68ff.). This basic assumption has been maintained to a large extent in later work except that the actual label for the subject position has been adapted to the developments in the analysis of the clause structure (cf. McCloskey 1997 for a survey1). Within a simple X’-system, the subject position has been identified as [Spec, IP]. Finally, within the more fine-grained clause structures proposed in more recent work (cf. Pollock 1989 and much subsequent work), the subject position has generally been identified as [Spec, AgrsP], but more generally the subject position could simply be defined as the highest specifier position in the inflectional layer (McCloskey 1997:216).


Embed Clause Main Clause External Argument Subordinate Clause Object Shift 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric Haeberli
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.University of ReadingUK
  2. 2.University of GenevaSwitzerland

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