Syntactic identity and ellipsis

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JournalThe Linguistic Review
DatePublished - Mar 2011
Issue number1
Volume28
Number of pages32
Pages (from-to)79-110
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Under what conditions is ellipsis possible? Fiengo and May (Indices and identity, MIT Press, 1994), Fox (Economy and semantic interpretation, MIT Press, 2000), and Rooth (Ellipsis redundancy and reduction redundancy, 1992), among many others, conclude that syntax plays a role in ellipsis, at least in part. Merchant (The syntax of silence: sluicing, islands, and the theory of ellipsis, Oxford University Press, 2001: p19-25) challenges this view, and argues that ellipsis in general, or sluicing in particular, is conditioned purely by semantics, providing arguments against syntactic accounts. More recently, this view is challenged by Chung (Sluicing and the lexicon: the point of no return, Ms. University of California, 2006) and Merchant himself (Voice and ellipsis, Ms. University of Chicago, 2007, Linguistic Inquiry 39: 169–179, 2008b), who provide evidence for the relevance of syntax. This article shows that Merchant's (The syntax of silence: sluicing, islands, and the theory of ellipsis, Oxford University Press, 2001) arguments do not constitute a real challenge to a syntactic account. In so doing, it is also demonstrated that syntax does play a role in ellipsis. We then develop a syntactic isomorphism condition on ellipsis that accounts for observed facts.

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