Manual Ellipsis and nonsentential speech

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Products of this store will be shipped directly from Japan to your country. This is presumably propositional — if not we could easily swap in a relative clause, which would clearly be propositional. A nonsententialist could happily agree that non- sententials contain elements that are propositional and still remain nonsententialists, so we need to clarify. From time to time I will speak of utterances and situations involving those utterances, but only as a way to make clear the relevant SCN while leaving open the correct analysis of the SCN i.

Does it Matter? If the issue of non-sententialism is clarified in this way — replaced with talk of propositional form — we immediately face the question of whether anything turns on the answer. Sometimes we suppose that semantics is where the rubber meets the road, so you can only run metaphysics off of the pre-pragmatic semantics, but this is an unargued assumption that has never been seriously defended. Is the construction of a propositional form driven by narrow syntax, or does the construction happen further downstream wide syntax?

Not much turns on this for the philosopher, but it is an interesting question, not least because, as I indicated earlier, finding an answer forces us to engage the outer edges of our understanding in linguistic theory. In sections 4. Newspaper headline. Famous message sent upon sinking of the battleship Hood. Uttered when asked where the children are.


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Said when asked if any colleagues were party members. Said with the intention that the hearer keep close tabs on someone. So, for example, in subordinate clauses we may find the tense inaudible as in 6 , the subject NP may be inaudible as in 7 , or, as in Larson, den Dikken and Ludlow this volume , the verb itself may be inaudible as in 8.

Items in all caps and parentheses are inaudible syntactic elements.

Paul H Portner

The initial round of arguments appealed to the fact that often the sub-clausal fragment that is actually pronounced could not be generated unless it was the product of clause-level operations. I organized this argument around the operations themselves and showed how each of the clause-level operations gave rise to what some authors have mistaken for non-sentential or non-clausal speech. The first round of arguments were couched within a 's version of generative linguistics.

Passives Consider an utterance of 1 again. The problem with thinking of this as corresponding to a subclausal form is that in a number of standard grammatical theories, passive forms are derived from clause-level processes. So, speculating, a plausible derivation would proceed as follows: 1a The jury found the prisoner guilty underlying D-structure representation 1b The prisoner was found guilty by the jury passivization 1c The prisoner aux found guilty by the jury aux ellipsis 1d NP aux found guilty PP argument ellipsis The crucial step is the step from 1a to 1b , since it involves a clause-level passive transformation.

For the non-sententialist, there is no obvious way to explain the derivation of the passive form. Nor can the non-sententialist argue that this passive form is adjectival and not the product of derivational processes, because other examples show that this suggestion is fallacious.


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To illustrate by way of another example, in World War II, when the Bismark sank the Hood, another British ship transmitted the following simple message. Notice that this is a passive form of 'sink', and in Ludlow I agued that a plausible story was that 2 undergoes passivization and then deletion as in the following steps. Q-float Another example I discussed in Ludlow involved a case where we are at a family reunion and a niece asks where the other children are.

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We utter 3. This looks like a pretty standard example of non-sentential speech, but closer investigation suggests that even a case like 3 is plausibly the product of sentence-level processes -- in this case the operation known as Q-float.

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So, in this case, we begin with the following structure, 3a [All the children] are in the garden. This undergoes Q-float, yielding 3b. Then the NP argument and the aux undergo deletion as in the above cases, yielding 3c. The possibility of the structure in 3 remains mysterious.

In effect, it would be in the same family of constructions as 'All were lost'. Aux Inversion and Ellipsis Sag discussed the case of aux inversion and ellipsis, and noted that we cannot have an elided VP following an inverted auxiliary.

His example of an inverted auxiliary was the following, where the ordering of 'all' and 'were' is reversed. As we watch the proceedings on television, you look at us and raise an eyebrow as if to ask how many of them were in fact socialists. We utter 4. But why not? Idiom Chunks Idiom chunks are idioms that must appear in concert with certain verbs. A classic example is the idiom chunk 'keep close tabs'.

One can keep close tabs, but one cannot "give close tabs", "make close tabs" etc.

Ellipsis and Nonsentential Speech - Google Libros

This particular idiom requires the presence of the verb 'keep'. It is not licensed with other verbs and it is not licensed by the absence of a verb as the following cases show. He comes to our office for a meeting. As he leaves our office we turn to our friend and private detective Rocky and say, "close tabs," intending to inform Rocky that we want him to keep close tabs on this fellow.

Why can we do this? One natural explanation for the sententialist is simply that the verb 'keep' was originally available in the now- deleted material. What is the non-sententialist to say? How can this element appear without 'keep'? It is entirely unclear what sort of explanation could be offered. The other oddity in this response however, is that when generative grammar did deploy the notion of base generated structures typically D-structure representations they were typically generated from the category label S for sentence via recursive phrase structure rules see, for example, the Aspects model of Chomsky So apparently we need a brand new conception of base generation in addition to some mysterious new account of passive, Q-float and other syntactic phenomena.

At best the argument would demonstrate that in deriving such phrases, the derivation must pass through some stage at which the phrase is embedded in a sentence-frame.

2007.06.15

But even if that were true, the result of such a process would still be the plain-old phrase. It would not be a sentence. First, the thesis I defended in my paper was that a full clause is generated at some level of representation or other. More urgently, however, the kinds of movement called for in the above cases passive, Q-float, etc.

Why on earth would that happen and what would it mean for it to happen?

Are we to be left solely with a string of lexical items? But then what guides our semantics which is structure sensitive? Consider, for example, the problem of figuring out scope relations if structure is annihilated. Finally, while there are certainly grammatical theories that countenance the deletion of lexical material although current theory is more apt to say that the lexical items are present but unpronounced , I am so far unaware of any theory that also calls for the annihilation of linguistic structure.