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date: 20 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter centers on nominal ellipsis phenomena from a broad perspective. First, several diagnostics are provided in order to make a basic distinction between empty nouns and true instances of nominal ellipses. One set of such diagnostics is related to uniformity considerations; i.e. the parallelism between elliptical and non-elliptical nominal phrases with respect to thematic assignment, matching effects, and extraction. Another set has to do with the specific conditions that distinguish empty nouns from nominal ellipses with respect to the need for an antecedent, identity effects, productivity, and lexical meaning. Second, the chapter also focuses on the recoverability conditions that regulate the distribution of nominal anaphora. It is shown why lexical identity is unavoidable in nominal ellipses. Moreover, some putative instances of pragmatically controlled nominal ellipses are, in reality, conceived of as empty nouns requiring contextual salience. Finally, the chapter addresses the problem of licensing nominal ellipses. On the one hand, it is argued that there is no licensing by inflection of any sort. Instead, the morphological effects we observe are epiphenomena resulting from the way in which morphology resolves different stranded affix scenarios. On the other hand, a typology of nominal ellipses is proposed based on the different sizes that the elided constituents might have, depending on some selectional properties of functional heads.

Keywords: nominal ellipsis, empty nouns, identity, licensing, anaphora

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