Verb Phrase Ellipsis with Nominal Antecedents

Abstract : This paper brings new theoretical and experimental evidence to bear on the classical question of whether Verb Phrase Ellipsis requires a syntactically identical antecedent. We focus on the less studied case of nominal antecedents and argue that they are always grammatical but that the discourse conditions on VPE, namely that it requires a salient alternative in the discourse model, are such that they can only be met by nominal antecedents in those special cases where a noun can express such an alternative. Specifically we focus on the case of ‘polar nouns’ which we show can function as a previously unnoticed type of concealed question, making a polar alternative salient. We provide experimental evidence, based on online acceptability judgments, showing (i) that VPE is judged more acceptable than do it when there is a salient polar alternative in the context, whether it is expressed by a verb or a noun; (ii) that nominal antecedents are judged slightly less acceptable than verbal antecedents in such cases, a difference that can be partly explained by the fact that (iii) nouns are judged less acceptable than verbs when they are forced to express a polar alternative, independently of the ellipsis, suggesting that coercion is involved. In conclusion, we suggest that VPE simply requires accessing an antecedent satisfying the discourse constraints within the discourse model but that the heuristic strategies of the parser make use of all available evidence, including syntactic structure in short term memory, making syntactically identical antecedents easier to find and hence more acceptable.
Keywords : Ellipsis
Type de document :
Pré-publication, Document de travail
Submitted. 2014
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https://hal-univ-diderot.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01234401
Contributeur : Philip Miller <>
Soumis le : jeudi 26 novembre 2015 - 20:20:02
Dernière modification le : jeudi 11 janvier 2018 - 06:17:43

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  • HAL Id : hal-01234401, version 1

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LLF | USPC

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Philip Miller, Barbara Hemforth. Verb Phrase Ellipsis with Nominal Antecedents. Submitted. 2014. 〈hal-01234401〉

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