In linguistic typology, a null-subject language is a language whose grammar permits an independent clause to lack an explicit subject, such a clause is then said to have a null subject.
Typically, null-subject languages express person, number, and/or gender agreement with the referent on the verb, rendering a subject noun phrase redundant. In the principles and parameters framework, the null subject is controlled by the pro-drop parameter, which is either on or off for a particular language.
For example, in Italian the subject "she" can be either explicit or implicit:
- Maria non vuole mangiare. lit. Maria not want -eat, "Maria does not want to eat".
- Non vuole mangiare. lit. Subject not want -eat, " does not want to eat."
The subject "(s)he" of the second sentence is only implied in Italian. English and French, on the other hand, require an explicit subject in this sentence.
Of the thousands of languages in the world, a considerable part are null-subject languages, from a wide diversity of unrelated language families. They include Albanian, Hebrew, Arabic, Basque, Finnish, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Catalan, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and other Slavic languages, Spanish, Greek, and Tamil, as well as most languages related to these, and many others still. In fact it is rather non-pro-drop that is an areal feature of Standard Average European including French, German, and English.
Famous quotes containing the word language:
“This Light inspires, and plays upon
The nose of Saint like Bag-pipe drone,
And speaks through hollow empty Soul,
As through a Trunk, or whispring hole,
Such language as no mortal Ear
But spiritual Eve-droppers can hear.”
—Samuel Butler (16121680)