The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 10/8 - Itai Bassi and Justin Colley (MIT)

Speaker: Itai Bassi and Justin Colley (MIT).
Title: “P-word integrity”: a new condition on ellipsis
Time: Tuesday, October 8th, 1pm – 2pm
Location: 32-D461

Abstract: We observe a curious restriction on the distribution of pronouns in ellipsis contexts, which can be illustrated with the following examples:

1) a.  I called Sheryl on Monday, and called her on Tuesday again.

    b.*I called Sheryl on Monday, and her on Tuesday again.

    c.  I called Sheryl₁ on Monday, and HER₂/HIM/Mary on Tuesday

The generalization that emerges is that if a head is gapped, its complement (if overt) must be contrastively focused. But we will show that the story is more complicated than that. We will propose that the facts follow from a phonological constraint on ellipsis: don’t elide sub-parts of a string that forms a phonological word. We will discuss the consequences of such a principle for the theory of ellipsis.

This is work in progress and we would appreciate any feedback!