Focusing effects and NP interpretation in VP ellipsis
This dissertation provides solutions for some problems of quantification and anaphora interpretation in VP ellipsis contexts. The introductory Chapter 1 begins with brief descriptions of the problems and some of the basic assumptions employed in this thesis. I will then discuss the 'identity problem' of VP ellipsis and argue that the relevant identity condition for VPs is determined at the level of LF but is oblivious to indices on anaphoric expressions. This conclusion leads to a question of how to constrain indexing of pronominal elements in VP ellipsis contexts so that unavailable interpretations are successfully eliminated. In Chapter 2, I argue that the distribution of indices in VP ellipsis contexts is constrained by a pragmatic principle, namely a principle of focus interpretation. It will be shown that some of the most recent development in the semantics and pragmatics of focus gives the right degree of restrictiveness on indexing.
Chapter 3 is an investigation of a curious puzzle of quantifier scope in VP ellipsis contexts. When a quantificational NP is contained in the antecedent VP, its interpretation appears to be dependent on the quantificational structure of the ellipsis site. I will argue that the unavailable interpretations of quantifiers in those contexts are ruled out because they do not satisfy the condition of focus interpretation. The solution advocated here removes the need for special syntactic constraints on scope taking in ellipsis contexts.
The core empirical issue in Chapter 4 is a set of examples in which a pronoun in VP ellipsis contexts allows a so-called 'sloppy' reading in a structural configuration that is believed to disallow variable binding. These examples threaten the standard view that a strict reading of a pronoun is brought about by the referential nature of the pronoun while a bound variable pronoun yields a sloppy reading under ellipsis. I will provide a solution for this puzzle, in which I will relate the problem to the semantics of indefinite NPs and pronouns anaphoric to them.