Pronoun omission and agreement: An analysis based on ICE Singapore and ICE India

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Abstract

This article deals with pronoun omission in subject position and its connection with subject-verb agreement in Indian English and Singapore English. Agreement morphology has been found to be a predictor and facilitator of pronoun omission cross-linguistically in that it aids in the identification and retrieval of the referents of omitted pronouns. The results of a corpus study partly confirm this trend, since they show that agreement morphology does have a weak facilitating effect in both varieties examined; that is, pronoun omission increases when the subject and the verb agree in person and number. However, this is only true for lexical verbs; non-modal auxiliaries (i.e., be, have, do), on the contrary, show a low percentage of omitted pronouns and no facilitating effect of agreement morphology. To account for this finding, the possible inhibiting effect on pronoun omission of the frequency of co-occurrence of pronouns and non-modal auxiliaries was also explored.

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