Coherence Relations, Ellipsis and Contrastive Topics

Journal of Semantics 21 (2):133-153 (2004)
Abstract
It has been observed (Kehler, 1996, Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society; Kehler, 2000 Linguistics and Philosophy, 23, 533–575; Kehler, 2002 Coherence, Reference, and the Theory of Grammar) that ellipsis resolution processes interact with the inference processes underlying the establishment of coherence relations in discourse. For example, gapping only co‐occurs with the coherence relation of Resemblance. In this paper I show that the reason why certain ellipsis processes only co‐occur with certain types of coherence relations does not lie in the (im)possibility to reconstruct the missing material. Rather, ellipsis processes differ in their relation to the topic of the sentence. The way in which different coherence relations construct their topic (i.e. as a contrastive topic or as a non‐contrastive topic) restricts the types of ellipsis they can occur with. This conclusion is supported by observed differences between gapping and subject deletion in Dutch SGF‐constructions
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