Topics in ellipsis
The term ellipsis, broadly construed, applies to syntactic structures that seem to host obligatory positions not filled with overt lexical material. More narrowly construed. the term refers to a hypothetical grammatical process that deprives lexical material of its phonetic content. This dissertation explores ellipsis in both the broader and the narrower sense of the term. The three questions it addresses, with respect to different constructions., are the following. First, does the syntactic structure host a relevant silent position to begin with, and hence is it a case of ellipsis even in the broad sense of the term? Second, assuming the presence of silent structure, how does this structure come to be silent? Specifically, does it involve a grammatical process of ellipsis in the narrow sense? Third, assuming a process of ellipsis is at work, what are the constraints on this process?
Chapter 1 lays out these issues in greater detail and gives an overview of the dissertation. Chapter 2 addresses the third question formulated above. Specifically, it examines the effects of ellipsis in what I call reduced conditionals in German. a construction not previously analyzed in the literature. It is argued that in these cases, the ellipsis process has the effect of forcing an index on its target to be anaphoric. Chapter 3 and chapter 4 deal with the first question by arguing that certain coordinations previously analyzed in terms of movement to the left of a coordinating particle are instead to be analyzed in terms of silent positions to its right. Chapter 3 makes this point with respect to disjunctions of the form… either…or, while chapter 4 analyzes certain asymmetric coordinations in German. Chapter 5 addresses the second question stated above. Specifically. it presents new evidence for the view that silent verb phrases in cases of so-called VP-ellipsis are not in fact the result of a process of ellipsis, but rather are silent proforms with the semantics of bound variables.