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Conference Information

Full Title: Approaches to Fragments and Ellipsis in Spoken and Written English

Location: Vigo, Spain
Start Date: 28-Sep-2017 - 30-Sep-2017
Contact: Nikolaos Lavidas
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting URL:
Meeting Description: Workshop at BICLCE2017 (7th Biennial International Conference on the Linguistics of Contemporary English, in Vigo, 28-30 September 2017

Convenors: Nikolaos Lavidas (University of Thessaloniki), Meike Pentrel (Osnabrueck University)

Spoken (and written) language exhibits a high number of incomplete sentences, among them cases of ellipsis or fragments, such as “From Europe!” or “Milk?”.

A crucial question posed in previous studies is whether fragments are sentential or not. Moreover, the interpretation of fragments and their force has been at the center of the relevant research (Barton 1990; Stainton 2006). Analyses vary from those that follow an “ellipsis approach,” or a deletion-based analysis of fragments (among others, Hankamer 1979; Morgan 1973 - Stanley 2000; Reich 2003; Brunetti 2003 - Merchant 2001, 2004, 2008), to those of the direct interpretation approach, or “direct generation” account (among others, Ginzburg & Sag 2000; Barton 1990; Stainton 1998 - van Riemsdijk 1978; Culicover & Jackendoff 2005).

The first type of approaches proposes a deletion transformation which assumes an unpronounced structure and thus complicates syntax (e.g. Hankamer 1979). According to Merchant, fragment answers are a result of a movement of the remnant (pronounced) part to a clause-peripheral position which is followed by the ellipsis of the unpronounced part. The second type of approach does not involve ellipsis nor any underlying syntactic structure, rather the syntax of the fragment is just the phrase/fragment itself. A proposition can arise from an NP with a revision of the usual mappings (complicating the syntax-semantics mapping). According to this type of approaches, there are two types of fragments: fragments that can be resolved through structural identity with an explicit linguistic source; and other fragments that can be resolved through inference, since no linguistic source is available for them (among others, Ginzburg & Sag 2000; Ginzburg & Cooper 2004; Kempson et al. 2015 – cf. also Ford, Fox & Thompson 2002 and Couper-Kuhlen 2011).

Construction Grammar (CxG) (e.g. Goldberg 2006; Kay & Fillmore 1999) may yet offer another way of explaining the prevalence of fragments and ellipsis in (spoken) language. Assuming a hierarchical network of constructions (form-meaning pairings), CxG can account for full form (mother) constructions (“He is from Europe”), reduced constructions (“From Europe”) and also formulaic units with an idiomatic character. Being a usage-based model CxG allows for redundancy in the network of constructions and fragments and ellipsis are stored as constructions independent of a full form (Heine 2006).
Linguistic Subfield: Linguistic Theories; Semantics; Syntax
Subject Language: English
LL Issue: 28.862

This is a session of the following meeting:
7th Biennial International Conference on the Linguistics of Contemporary English (BICLCE)

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