Cross-Linguistic Evidence and the Licensing of Implicit Arguments


  • Gergely Pethő University of Debrecen
  • Eva Kardos University of Debrecen



This paper discusses the occurrence and the licensing of implicit object arguments, also referred to in the literature as null complements or understood arguments. Functionalist accounts (such as those by Groefsema and Németh T. which are couched in a relevance-theoretic framework) have repeatedly claimed that this phenomenon is fundamentally dependent on dis\-course-interpretational factors. In particular, it has been stated that implicit arguments can be used in Hungarian in a rather unrestricted way, and their occurrence is only limited by considerations of interpretability. We argue against both of these positions and try to show that cross-linguistic data can assist in revealing the circular nature and ultimate inadequacy of existing functional accounts of implicit argument licensing.