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Left-edge deletion in English and subject omission in diaries1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 February 2012

Department of Linguistics, South College, University of Massachusetts, Amherst MA 01003,


This article discusses deletion in spoken and written English. It notes that subjects are frequently dropped both in informal spoken English (Napoli 1982; Zwicky & Pullum 1983b) and in certain registers of written English such as diaries (Haegeman 1990, 1997, 2007; Haegeman & Ihsane 1999, 2001). The article argues in favour of Napoli's phonological analysis of left-edge deletion in spoken English, and provides a formalisation of Napoli's account in the framework of Selkirk's (1995, 2001, 2011) optimality-theoretic analysis of syntax–phonology mapping. A comparison is drawn with the case of subject drop in the diary register. Due to the difference in surface distribution of the phenomenon between the spoken and written cases, the analysis cannot transfer directly. However, I suggest that, combined with arguments made by Haegeman (2002) for a sentence-medial position for modifiers in written English, the phonological analysis can account for a large subset of the diary drop cases.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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