Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Lecture | Com(parative) Syn(tax) Series

Contrast and Verb Phrase Ellipsis: Triviality, Symmetry, and Competition

  • Richard Stockwell (Oxford University)
Thursday 26 November 2020
Com(parative) Syn(tax) Series
online | via Skype (please e-mail e.j.kerr@hum.leidenuniv.nl for the link)


This talk, based on my recent UCLA dissertation, argues that contrast is crucial to verb phrase ellipsis (VPE).  The contrast requirement comes to light from studying the interaction of VPE with triviality, symmetry, and competition.  In some trivial sentences (1), VPE is ungrammatical for lack of contrast.  With symmetrical predicates (2), symmetry creates semantic identity that overcomes non-identity in form, but can also lead to contrast failures.  And in MaxElide effects (3) (Schuyler 2001, Merchant 2008), contrast (cf. Griffiths 2019) offers a more promising account for the ungrammaticality of VPE than competition from sluicing:

(1)  If John is wrong, then he is *(wrong).

(2)  John wanted to dance with Mary, but she didn’t want to (dance with him).
(3)  John ate something, but I don’t know what (*he did).

Com(parative) Syn(tax) website

This website uses cookies.  More information.