A Pronoun Analysis of Null Arguments in Korean

Hee-Don Ahn1, Sungeun Cho2,
Author Information & Copyright
1Konkuk University
2Yeungnam University
Corresponding Author: Professor Department of English Education Yeungnam University 280 Daehak-ro, Gyeongsan, Gyeongbuk 38541, Korea , E-mail:

ⓒ Copyright 2020 Language Education Institute, Seoul National University. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: Jul 03, 2020 ; Revised: Aug 13, 2020 ; Accepted: Aug 18, 2020

Published Online: Aug 31, 2020


This paper aims to account for null arguments in Korean under pro analysis. Korean is a radical pro-drop language; therefore pro is extremely productive. Thus, if pro analysis can capture interpretations of null arguments without postulating a separate operation such as argument ellipsis, it will be a good example of Occam’s razor. We highlight the premise that pro is a silent form of an overt pronoun. This paper shows that the pronoun analysis of null arguments is both conceptually and empirically advantageous. Sloppy readings and nonspecific readings for mass nouns are regarded as data apparently supporting argument ellipsis. However, we show that the data can be reanalyzed under parallelism between null arguments and overt pronouns. We also show that only pronoun analysis can give a solid explanation to scope interaction between disjunction and negation and ellipsis-resistant constituents. We further discuss some advantages of pronoun analysis in comparison with another type of pro analysis, N(P) substitution analysis.

Keywords: null argument; pronoun analysis; argument ellipsis; N(P) substitution analysis



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