The privileged status of phases: licensing VP movement and ellipsis in Mandarin and Cantonese
Tommy Tsz-Ming Lee, Victor Pan
June 2022

This paper argues for the privileged status of phases in licensing movement and ellipsis of verb phrases (VPs) in two Chinese varieties, Mandarin and Cantonese. While head licensing is crucial in VP movement and ellipsis, a closer investigation into (pre-verbal) aspectual elements reveals that not all head elements license VP movement and ellipsis. This indicates that head licensing is only a necessary but not sufficient condition. The split observed with aspectual elements calls for a more fine-grained proposal on the licensing conditions of VP movement and ellipsis. Assuming a split aspect analysis and a contextual/dynamic approach to phasehood, we develop an account that assigns a privileged status to phases. Substantially, we argue that the verbal phrases that can undergo VP movement and ellipsis must be a phase in Mandarin and Cantonese. This privileged status of phases is further supported by a number of phenomena in these languages, including the the lack of V-stranding VP ellipsis, the lack of (English-style) sluicing, as well as the the CP-TP asymmetry in movement and ellipsis.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006662
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: submitted
keywords: vp movement, vp ellipsis, phase, aspect phrase, syntax
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