The Silence of Syntax
Laura Stigliano
July 2022

In this dissertation I investigate the syntax of ellipsis, the phenomenon in which, under particular circumstances, certain linguistic material can be omitted, but it's still understood in the context of its antecedent. Ellipsis has been a central topic in the study of linguistics because it raises fundamental questions about language in particular, and cognition in general. Its importance lies on the fact that it represents a case in which the association between linguistic form and meaning breaks down: there is meaning without form. By examining different types of ellipsis in Spanish, I address two of the main questions that have occupied the ellipsis literature for more than 50 years: the identity question (1a) and the licensing question (1b): (1) a. What is the relationship between the material that has been elided and its antecedent? What type of identity does ellipsis require in order to be licensed? b. What syntactic configurations allow ellipsis? What heads, features and operations are involved in the licensing of ellipsis? With regards to (1a), I claim that some types of ellipsis require a strict syntactic identity condition to be licensed while others are subject to 'mixed-identity' requirements that impose a strict syntactic identity requirement on a portion of the structure, and no identity requirements at all on a different portion of the structure. This main claim is supported by the detailed examination of two empirical domains in ellipsis in Spanish: (i) P-Omission facts in various types of TP-Ellipsis (such as sluicing, fragment answers, stripping and pseudostripping, and split questions, among others) and (ii) an understudied elliptical construction that I dub Topic-Remnant Elided Questions (or TREQs, in short). With respect to (1b), I propose a theory of ellipsis licensing based on (i) a typology of [E]-features, and (ii) an ellipsis operation that can impose a syntactic identity requirement which is calculated head-by-head. In short, each [E]-feature triggers certain operations, is licensed in particular syntactic configurations, and can occur only with specific heads. This proposal accounts for the different patterns found in the empirical domains under consideration here in a straightforward way, without the need of proposing construction-specific analyses or exceptional mechanisms. This dissertation is organized around two main parts: Part I (Chapters 2 and 3) studies P-Omission facts in Spanish, and provides an analysis of TP-Ellipsis based on a syntactic identity condition; Part II (Chapters 4 to 7) analyzes the understudied construction that I dub Topic Remnant Elided Questions (TREQs).
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006719
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: The University of Chicago
keywords: syntax; ellipsis; spanish, syntax
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