David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Jason Merchant (2004, and Chap. 3, this volume) proposes to account for all speech acts performed with “fragments,” whether in discourse-initial position or otherwise, by appealing to syntactic ellipsis. Though his proposal is insightful, I offer empirical and methodological considerations against it. Empirical problems include: (a) His alleged “elliptical sentences” do not embed the way they should; (b) in some cases where Merchant requires fronting to take place, it is blocked – either by an island (e.g., in English) or because nonsubject fronting is not allowed in the language in question (e.g., in Malagasy); and (c) his “limited ellipsis” strategy, allowing do it and this is __ to be licensed in discourse-initial position, is not general enough. The methodological problem is that, his protests to the contrary, Merchant’s view multiplies hidden structure without necessity.
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Jason Merchant (2010). Three Kinds of Ellipsis: Syntactic, Semantic, Pragmatic? In Francois Recanati, IIsidora Stojanovic & Neftali Villanueva (eds.), Context-Dependence, Perspective, and Relativity (pp. 141-192).
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Kyle Johnson (2001). What VP Ellipsis Can Do, and What It Can't, but Not Why. In Mark Baltin & Chris Collins (eds.), The Handbook of Contemporary Syntactic Theory. Blackwell. 439--479.
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