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Echo fragments: preliminary remarks

  • James Griffiths (University of Konstanz/LUCL)
Wednesday 26 April 2017
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden


Echo fragments (1b) are the fragmentary (i.e. elliptical) versions of true echo questions (1a) (Sobin 2010).

Context: A and B are organising the Oscars award ceremony.

A:          Make sure the Oscar is presented by the husband of Michelle Obama.

Incredulous that A wants an Oscar to be presented by an ex-president, B replies:

B: Make sure it’s presented by the husband of whom?
B: Make sure it’s presented by the husband of Michelle Obama?


B: Presented by the husband of whom?
B: Presented by the husband of Michelle Obama?


To date, echo fragments have received scant attention in literature that adopts a PF-deletion (Ross 1969, Merchant 2001) approach to ellipsis (for cursory remarks, see Abe & Tancredi 2013). This oversight is unfortunate, as echo fragments, being in-situ questions in wh-movement languages such as English, have the potential to be highly instructive for such theories.
To remedy this oversight, Güliz Güneş, Anikó Lipták, and I have recently embarked on the first in-depth cross-linguistic investigation of echo fragments (which focusses on English, Hungarian, and Turkish). This talk provides an introduction to data collected so far, highlights points of cross-linguistic variation, and provides speculative remarks about how these data should be analysed and what they might tell us about the nature of ellipsis (and echoicity more generally).



Abe, J. & C. Tancredi. 2013. Non-Constituent Deaccenting and Deletion: A Phase-Based Approach. Ms., Tohoku Gakuin University & Keio University.
Merchant, J. 2001. The Syntax of Silence. OUP.
Merchant, J. 2004. Fragments and ellipsis. Linguistics & Philosophy 27: 661-738.
Ross, John R. 1969. Guess who? In R. Binnick et al. (eds.) CLS5. Chicago Linguistic Society, 252–286.
Sobin, N. 2010. Echo questions in the Minimalist program. Linguistic Inquiry 41: 131-148.


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