Utterance meaning and syntactic ellipsis

Pragmatics and Cognition 5 (1):51-78 (1997)
Speakers often use ordinary words and phrases, unembedded in any sentence, to perform speech acts—or so it appears. In some cases appearances are deceptive: The seemingly lexical/phrasal utterance may really be an utterance of a syntactically eplliptical sentence. I argue however that, at least sometimes, plain old words and phrases are used on their own. The use of both words/phrases and elliptical sentences leads to two consequences: 1. Context must contribute more to utterance meaning than is often supposed. Here's why: The semantic type of normal words and phrases is non-proppositional, even after the usual contextual features are added . Yet an utterance of a word/phrase can be fully propositional. 2. Often, a hearer does not need to know the exact identity of the expression uttered, to understand an utterance. The reason: Typically, words/phrases in context will sound the same, and mean the same, as some elliptical sentence token
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DOI 10.1075/pc.5.1.06sta
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Jason Merchant (2005). Fragments and Ellipsis. Linguistics and Philosophy 27 (6):661 - 738.

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