Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 613–671

Empty Subjects in Finnish and Hebrew


  • Anne Vainikka
    • Cognitive Science Department Krieger HallThe Johns Hopkins University
  • Yonata Levy
    • Psychology Department andHadassah-Hebrew University Medical School

DOI: 10.1023/A:1006225032592

Cite this article as:
Vainikka, A. & Levy, Y. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory (1999) 17: 613. doi:10.1023/A:1006225032592


Finnish and Hebrew (in most tenses) share an unusual mixed subject omission pattern: the subject NP is optional in the first and second person but is generally required in the third person. A unified analysis of the two languages is developed in this paper, using certain proposals of Minimalism and a licensing principle which requires that both the specifier and the head position of a projection must be filled. In addition to the null subject pattern, Finnish and Hebrew differ both from traditional pro-drop and from non- pro-drop languages in the patterning of the agreement paradigm; the analysis developed here provides a connection between the mixed null subject pattern and the special agreement paradigm.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999