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date: 15 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter emphasizes the shared communicative motivation of ellipsis constructions that leads to cross-linguistic similarities and certain predictable functional constraints. More specifically, ellipsis is licensed by a system of motivated constructions, i.e. learned pairings of form and function. Constructions capture a range of restrictions on form and function, including those related to semantics, discourse context, register, genre, and dialect. Generalizations across constructions are captured by a network of constructions with partially overlapping representations. Semantic recoverability is facilitated not by copying and deleting syntactic structure at the ellipsis site, but by a cognitive process that ‘points’ to information that is, typically but not always, available from the memory trace of an antecedent. This mechanism is independently required for fragments, non-elliptical expressions such as ditto and respectively, and the many examples that do not display the ‘connectivity’ effects that are predicted by copy and deletion accounts.

Keywords: constructions, communication, pointer, gapping, VP-ellipsis, French

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