LINGUIST List 6.1687

Fri Dec 1 1995

Sum: Gapping and pronominals

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  1. Soren Wichmann, sum: gapping and pronominals

Message 1: sum: gapping and pronominals

Date: Thu, 30 Nov 1995 04:18:12 sum: gapping and pronominals
From: Soren Wichmann <>
Subject: sum: gapping and pronominals

A few weeks ago I posted a query asking for translations of sentences
like 'I brought the beans and John the rice.' I wanted to see if
gapping is restricted in such a way that it might be used as a
criterion for disguishing between pronominal markers and agreement
markers in strongly head-marking languages. As it turns out, gapping
is probably universal--even strongly head-marking languages can do
it. While my hypothesis was refuted, the many responses contributed to
something that actually amounts to a small typology of gapping. Along
with reproduction of the responses, given below, I have added all the
examples from the literature that I could find, such that this summary
actually represents a preliminary survey of gapping. I cannot vouch
personally for the data, they should be used with caution. Sources
should be consulted for additional discussion and information, and it
is certainly worthwhile to reelicit the examples from speakers, since
not all may agree on them.

I am extremely grateful for the people who responded to the query and
to a related one on the Funknet. Most painstakingly added many details
of information concerning morphology and so on, things that I have
unfortunately had to leave out for economy of bytes. The respondants

Aimee Anastasiu (
Peter Austin (
Huba Bartos (
Glenn Bingham (
Michel Buijs (
Anthony Diller (
Andolin Eguzkitza (
Michael Fortescue (
Pius ten Hacken (
Hartmut Haberland (
Colin Harrison (
Michael McCay (
Rosa Graciela Montes (
Marianna Pool-Westgaard (
Anne Reboul (
Benoit Robichaud (
Valerie W. Ross (
Larry Trask (
David Tuggy (
Tapani Salminen (
Karl-Michael Schneider (
Henk Wolf (

The data follow here. I would be grateful for additional data from
languages not already included in the list. In many cases it is not
clear whether there might be a possibility for gapping "both ways",
i.e. omitting either the left or the right verb. If all possibilities
are not illustrated fully in the following, I would like to receive
notices concerning this.

Thanks again!

- Soeren Wichmann, University of Copenhagen and U.C. Santa Barbara

BASQUE ((1) from McCay, p.c., (2-3) from Trask, p.c.; see also King 1994)

Pello-k babarrun-ak ekarr-i zituen
eta ni-k arroz-a
and I-ERG rice-DET
'Pello brought the beans and I the rice'

kepa-k baba-(a)-k ekarr-i d-it-u-
Peter-ERG bean-DET-PL bring-PERF PRES-PL-AUX-3.ERG
eta ni-k arroz-a [ekarr-i d-u-t]
and I-ERG rice-DET [bring-PERF PRES-AUX-1.SG.ERG]
'(Earlier today) I brought the beans and Peter the rice'
([...] can be left out;  = zero; _eta_ 'and' reduces to _ta_ after
vowel, -a 'DET' merges with preceding /a/))

Ni-k ardoa eta Jonek sagardoa edan ditugu
I-ERG wine-DET and John-ERG cider-DET drink-PERF PRES-PL-AUX-1.PL.ERG
'I (drank) the wine and John drank (lit: we-drank) the cider'

HUNGARIAN ((1) from Halasz, p.c., (2) from Bartos, p.c.)

A babot Peeter vette ees a rizst een [vettem]
The bean Peter (s)he-bought-it and the rice I [I-bought-it]
'Peter bought the beans and I the rice' ([...] can be left out)

P\'eter hozta a babot \'en a rizst
Peter bring:PAST:3.SG.SUBJ:DEF.OBJ the bean:ACC I:NOM the rice:ACC
'Peter brought the beans and I the rice'

FINNISH (Salminen, p.c.; see further Sulkala and Karjalainen 1992)

Pekka toi pavut ja mind [toin] riisin
Peter brought the.beans and I [brought] the rice
'Peter brought the beans and I the rice' ([...] can be left out)


Xasawako xale ta0,
Xasawako fish brought
many0 [nyanyih] nyany0m [taxd0m]
I [on the other hand] bread [brought]
'Xasawako brought fish, I (on the other hand) bread'
([...] can be left out; for an excellent overview of Tundra Nenets
phonology and morphology see

KANNADA (Gopal, p.c.)

Naanu fish maththu John akki konkondo
I fish and John rice bought-PL


Has gapping. Omits left verb. My source is an extensive grammar of the
language. The bibliographical data are not with me just now.

THAI (Harrison, p.c., via Diller; the example was heard in a restaurant)

raw sang kha:w-phat lae:w dae:ng ko' ra:t-na:
I order fried-rice and Daeng [CON] noodles

JAPANESE (See Ross (1970))

WEST GREENLANDIC (Fortescue 1984)

Hansi ataatsi-mik aqissir-puq uanga=lu pingasu-nik
Hansi one instr catch-ptarmigan 3s.indic I and three instr
'H. caught one ptarmigan and I (caught) three'

TOJOLABAL (Furbee 1974: 203)

S-k'ush-u b'ak'et Hwan, chenek' Chep,
he-ate meat John, beans Joe,
tek'ul MaNwel, sok wah Sebastiyan
fruit Manuel, with/and tortillas Sebastian
'John ate meat, Joe, beans, Manuel, fruit, and Sebastian, tortillas'
(sh = s with hachek, ch = c with hachek, N = eng/angma)

ZAPOTEC (Rosenbaum 1977: 379-395)

See the article. Also contains claims about patterns in Chinese,
Swahili, Tai, Wolof, Mam, English, French, Japanese, Korean, Siouan
(sic!--this is a family), Hindi, Turkish, Russian, Latin, Quechua,
Cherokee, Kanobal (sic!), Quiche, Tojolabal, Tzeltal, Tzotzil,
Cakchiquel; some of these are taken over from Ross (1970) and Pulte
(1973). Most claims are made in the absence of actual cited sentences.

BOLIVIAN QUECHUA (Pulte 1971: 103; see also Pulte 1073)

juanito aycata mik"un, tiyucataq papasta
'Juanito eats meat, and Tiuca potatoes'

YAGUA (Payne and Payne 1990: 296) (Though not gapping, this is

naansiimyaasiy savaturuNy
naada-siiy-maasiy sa-vaturuNy
3.DL-run-go.out 3.SG-woman:with:children
y'is'ijyuN naanj'aN'aNmun~uj'uN j'iy-jis'iy-j`uN
j'iy-jis'iy-y`uN naada-j'aN'aNmun~uj'uN j'i-jis'iy-j`uN
COR.1-after-ADLAT COR.1-after-ADL
'His wife runs out behind him, and her brother-in-law behind her'

(' and ` are marks over the following vowel and N = nasal hook under
the preceding vowel; ~ = tilde over preceding n)

MACUSHI (Abbott 1991: 44; this is not gapping, but related to it)

inna, i-te p^in uur^i
yes ADVBLZR-tooth NEG 1:PRO
t^i^ise ^itt^i ta-won uur^i am^ir^i kien po
but house in-NOMLZR 1:PRO 2:PRO savannah in
'Yes, I don't have teeth, but I live in a house, (whereas) you (live)
in the savannah'
(^ goes over following vowel)

PITJANTJATJARA (Bowe 1990; this is not gapping, but related)

Mary-lu puNu mantji-nu ka Betty kulukulu (N = eng/angma)
Mary-ERG wood get-PAST and Betty-ERG also
'Mary got some wood, and Betty too'

PUNJABI (Bhatia 1993)

maNi k'a'aNnii p'aR r'iaa aaN te tus axbaar
I story read ing-ms am and you-h newspaper
'I (masc) am reading a story and you (masc) a newspaper'
(N = nasalization of preceding vowel, ' = stress mark over following
vowel,  = i with umlaut marks (dieiresis))

HINDI (H.S. Gopal, p.c.)

mein machchali aur John chaaval kharidhey
I fish and John rice buy-PL
'I (bought) fish and John bought (lit: we-bought) rice'

ANCIENT GREEK (Buijs, p.c.; see also Sicking under the references)

enteuthen didoasin hoi Makroones barbariken longchen tois Hellesin
thereupon give the Macronians barbarian lance the Greeks
 (hist pres) (nom) (acc) (dat)
hoi de Hellenes ekeinois Helleniken
the part. Greeks them Greek
 (nom) (dat) (acc)
'Thereupon the Macronians gave the Greeks a barbarian lance; the
Greeks (gave) them a Gree (lance)'
(Xenophon: Anabasis, 4.87; cf. also Pindar: Nemean III, 68-70)

MODERN GREEK (Aimee Anastasiu, p.c.)

O Nikos efere tin turta ki ego to krasi
'Nick brought the cake and I the wine'

RUSSIAN (Alexey Martinson, p.c.)

Petr kupil kartoshku, a ya ris
Peter bought potatoes and I rice

Petr uzhe obedal, a ye esche net
'Peter have had lunch and I not yet'

LATIN (Scanlan 1980: 229, 232; but see also--and particularly--Elerick

Gallos ab Aquitanis Garumna flumen, a Belgis Matrona et Sequana
'The river Garonne separates the Gauls from the Aquitani, the Marne
and the Seine (separate them) from the Belgians' (Caes., B.G. I, 1, 2)

Iam intelleges multo me vigilare acrius ad salutatem, queam te ad
perniciem rei publicae
'You (Cataline) will already understand that I (Cicero) look much more
carefully after the interest of the state than you do after its
destruction' (Cic., Cat. I, 8)

ROMANIAN (Aimee Anastasiu p.c.)

Niku a adus tortur si eu vinul
'Nick brought the cake and I the wine'

SPANISH-MEXICO (Graciela and Pool-Westgaard p.c.)

Pedro llevar'a los frijoles y yo el arroz
Pedro llevar'a los frijoles y yo llevar'e el arroz
*Pedro llevar'a los frijoles y llevar'e el arroz
Pedro (s)he will bring the beans and I I will bring the rice
(accent mark goes over following vowel; not all speakers of all
dialects of Spanish are equally happy with gapping constructions)

FRENCH (Reboul and Robichaud p.c.)

Pierre a amene (or: apporta) les haricots (or: feves) et moi le riz
'Pierre brought the beans and I the rice'

GERMAN (Eisenberg 1973: 417)

weil Hans Bier trinkt und Franz Milch trinkt
'because Hans drinks beer and Franz drinks milk'
weil Hans Bier und Franz Milch trinkt
weil Hans Bier trinkt und Franz Milch
weil ich Bier trinke und du Milch trinkst
*weil ich Bier und du Milch trinkst
weil ich Bier trinke und du Milch


Peter naam de beannen mei en ik de rys
Peter brought the beans along and I the rice

DUTCH (Buijs and ten Hacken p.c.)

Peter brach de bonen mee en ik de rijst
Peter brought the beans and I the rice
'Peter brought the beasn and I the rice'
(the verb is _meebrengen_)

ENGLISH (Chatwin 1990)

Back at the boat station, another Winter Palace in miniature, the
guardian had caught a small, sad-faced sturgeon, and our deckhands
were tremendously excited at the prospect of fish stew. One carried a
cauldron, another a knife. . . .

Some speakers of English react against gapped sentences when they
occur in isolation. But as V. Ross (p.c.) informed me, they sound
better--even in isolation--when there is more than one gapped verb, as

I brought the beans, Sue the onions, and John the rice.


Abbott, Miriam. 1991. Macushi. In: Derbyshire, Desmond C. and Geoffrey
 K. Pullum (eds.), Handbook of Amazonian languages, vol. 3. Berlin/New
 York: Mouton.
Bhatia, Tej k. 1993. Punjabi. A cognitive-descriptive grammar.
Bowe, Heather J. 1990. Categories, constituents and constituent order
 in Pitjantjatjara. An aboriginal language of Australia. London and
 New York: Routledge.
Chatwin, Bruce. 1990. What am I doing here. Picador (paperback).
Eisenberg, Peter. 1973 A note on "identity of constituents". Linguistic
 Inquiry 4.3: 417-200.
Elerick, Charles. 1989. Gapping, preemptive markedness, and word order in
 Latin. In: Calboli, Gualtiero (ed.), Subordination and other topics in
 Latin. Procedings of the Third Colloquium on Latin Linguistics, Bologna,
 1-5 April 1985. Amsterdam/Philadephia: John Benjamins, 559-571
Fortescue, Michael. 1984. West Greenlandic. London: Croom Helm.
Furbee, K. Louanna. 1974. Identity in gapping and the lexical insertion
 of verb.
King, Alan R. 1994. The Basque language: A practical introduction. Reno:
 University of Nevada Press.
Pulte, William. 1973. A note on gapping. Linguistic Inquiry 4.1: 100.
Ross, John Robert. Gapping and the order of constituents. In: Bierwisch,
 Manfred and K. Heidolph (eds.), Progress in Linguistics. The Hague:
Seligson, G. M. 1983. Latin at Michigan 1951-1981. In: Harm Pinkster
 (ed.), Latin linguistics and linguistic theory. Amsterdam/Philadelphia:
 John Benjamins.
Sulkala, Helena and Merja Karjalainen. 1992. Finnish. London and New
 York: Routledge.
Payne, Doris L. and Thomas E. Payne. 1990. Yagua. In: Desmond C.
 Derbyshire and Geoffrey Pullum (eds.), Handbook of Amazonian languages,
 vol. 2. Berlin/New York: Mouton.


ten Hacken, Pius. 1994. Definig morphology: A principled approach to
determining the boundaries of compounding, derivation, and inflection.
Hildesheim: Olms. (ISBN 3-487-09891-1)
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