Journal of
Languages and Culture

  • Abbreviation: J. Lang. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6540
  • DOI: 10.5897/JLC
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 132

Full Length Research Paper

A comparative syntactic review of null-subject parameter in English and Ịzọn languages

Odingowei Kwokwo Macdonald
  • Odingowei Kwokwo Macdonald
  • Department of English and Literary Studies, Niger Delta University, Nigeria.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 12 February 2016
  •  Accepted: 06 June 2016
  •  Published: 30 September 2016


The theory of universal grammar relies predominantly on the biolinguistic concept of natural endowment and innate knowledge of the general principles of language. It postulates that all humans are naturally endowed with the general rules and configurations of language and to this extent, all natural languages have similar structural features. The theory of universal grammar as hypothesized by Chomsky and propagated by other linguists not only recognizes the universality of the general principles of language but also the existence of language-specific idiosyncratic features that constitute parametric variations among languages. These are the parameters of universal grammar. The most prominent parameters that create distinctions between languages are head directionality, pro-drop or null-subject and wh- parameters. This paper reviews the null-subject parameter in English and juxtaposes its occurrence or non-occurrence in the Ịzọn language. The aim of the paper is to characterize the parametric choices by English and Ịzọn languages in the derivation of grammatically convergent sentences with null-subject constituents. The study is competence-based and used data from tokens of sentences in conversation among competent native speakers of Ịzọn language. Data from each language were translated into the other via a gloss and comparatively analysed. The study reveals that null-subject constituent is not a characteristic feature of English syntax but a feature of Ịzọn syntax. The study is significant because it contributes fresh linguistic data for the principles and parameter theory.

Key words: Universal grammar, principles and parameters, parametric variations, null-subject, English, Ịzọn, syntactic.