LingLang Lunch (4/6/2016): Matthew Barros (Yale University)

Sluicing and Ellipsis Identity

This talk focuses on sluicing constructions, the ellipsis of TP in a Wh-question leaving a Wh-phrase “remnant” overt. Sluicing is subject to an identity condition that must hold between the sluiced question and its antecedent. There is currently no consensus on whether this condition should be characterized as syntactic or semantic in nature, or whether a hybrid condition that makes reference to both semantic and syntactic identity is needed (Merchant 2005, Chung 2013, Barker 2013). I provide a new identity condition that captures extant syntactic generalizations while allowing for enough wiggle room to let in detectible mismatches between the antecedent and sluice. The new identity condition also lets in “pseudosluices” alongside isomorphic sluices, where the sluiced question is a cleft or a copular question while the antecedent is not. Pseudosluicing has often been proposed as a last resort mechanism, only available when an isomorphic structure is independently ruled out (Rodrigues et al. 2009, Vicente 2008, van Craenenbroeck 2010). I defend a view where pseudosluicing is not a special case of sluicing, so that the identity condition should not distinguish between copular and non-copular clauses in the determination of identity. The new Identity condition achieves this in making no reference to the syntactic content of the ellipsis site.