LINGUIST List 24.1371

Thu Mar 21 2013

Calls: Syntax, Semantics, Psycholinguistics/Netherlands

Editor for this issue: Alison Zaharee <>

Date: 21-Mar-2013
From: Anikó Lipták <>
Subject: Identity in Ellipsis
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Full Title: Identity in Ellipsis
Date: 20-Sep-2013 - 21-Sep-2013 Location: Leiden, Netherlands Contact Person: Anikó Lipták
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >
Web Site:
Linguistic Field(s): Psycholinguistics; Semantics; Syntax

Call Deadline: 15-Jun-2013

Meeting Description:

Identity in EllipsisLUCL, Leiden University, 20-21 September 2013

Identity in ellipsis is a long-standing issue in linguistics. Virtually all accounts of ellipsis phenomena assume that the elided material must be identical in some way or other to material in a suitable antecedent available in the discourse. The nature of the identity condition and its precise formulation is under heated debate in current research. The main question is whether identity holds at some syntactic level of representation, or some semantic one, or both.

The syntactic account of identity (Sag 1976, Williams 1977, Fiengo & May 1994, Chung et al. 1995, Baltin 2012, Johnson 2012, Chung 2013) holds that ellipsis is recovered under a form of structural identity with the antecedent, defined over phrase markers of some sort, in most but not all cases, identical LF representations. Clearly, surface identity is not required, as shown by possible inflectional differences on verbs (see Warner 1985 for exceptions, and Lasnik 1995 for an account), cf. (1) (elided material appears in square brackets).

(1) a. They eat nattoo and John [eats nattoo], too.
b. John has eaten nattoo and Bill may [eat nattoo], too.

Semantic accounts, on the other hand, operate with an identity relation stated purely over semantic representations (Dalrymple et al 1991, Sag & Hankamer 1984, Hardt 1993, Ginzburg and Sag 2000, Merchant 2001, Anderbois 2011). Support for the semantic approach comes from various phenomena. One is ‘vehicle change’ (Fiengo and May 1994), others are syntactic mismatches of the kind in (2) (Merchant 2005):

(2) I remember meeting him, but I don’t remember when [I met him].

Semantic accounts are also supported by the availability of non-isomorphic antecedents in clausal ellipsis like sluicing (Postdam 2007, Vicente 2008, van Craenenbroeck 2010).

Syntactic identity is heavily supported by the lack of argument structure alterations (Chung 2006) and the lack of active-passive mismatches in clausal ellipsis (Merchant 2008), such as (3), since active and passive sentences differ from each other only in their syntax but not in their semantics.

(3) *Joe was murdered, but we don’t know who [murdered Joe].

In addition to purely syntactic and semantic approaches, there also exist ‘hybrid’ approaches, according to which both semantic and syntactic identity can guide the recovery of the elided material. In the most prominent type of hybrid approach (Kehler 2002), it is the discourse relation between the elliptical clause and its antecedent that determines the choice between syntactic and semantic identity and impacts the elidability of constituents.

Psycholinguistic research on ellipsis has also begun to address the issue of ellipsis identity, in order to understand what guides the parser in the recovery of the antecedent. It has been found that various forms of antecedent-ellipsis mismatches receive a systematic cline of acceptability (Kim et al 2011), which might suggest that identity is syntactic but non-identical ellipsis can be ‘repaired’ and become acceptable if the repair is not too difficult (Arregui et al 2006).

Invited Speakers:

We are pleased to announce that the following invited speakers have agreed to give a talk:

Jeroen van Craenenbroeck
Jason Merchant
Gary Thoms

Call for Papers:

We invite abstracts that bear on the identity condition on ellipsis from theoretical and experimental angles, addressing the issue of identity in any language. In particular, questions that the conference seeks to address include - but are not limited to - the following:

Does ellipsis need syntactic or semantic identity, or both?
What is the role of discourse in determining which kind of identity is required?
Are there differences in identity across small and large ellipses (clausal vs. predicate ellipsis)?
Are there cross-linguistic differences in the kind of identity ellipsis requires?
Under which conditions can ellipsis sites be non-isomorphic to their antecedent?
What is the role of extralinguistic material in the recoverability condition in ellipsis?
Which psycholinguistic methodology can be used to address the identity issue?
How can we integrate experimental and theoretical approaches into one coherent model?

Submission Guidelines:

Abstracts are invited for 30-minute oral presentations (plus 10 minutes for discussion) and a poster session. Abstracts should not exceed two pages, including data, references and diagrams. Abstracts should be typed in at least 11-point font, with one-inch margins (letter-size; 8 ½ by 11 or A4) and a maximum of 50 lines of text per page. Abstracts must be anonymous and submissions are limited to 2 per author, at least one of which is co-authored. Only electronic submissions will be accepted. Please submit your abstract to by 15 June 2013.

Selection Committee:

Lobke Aelbrecht, Enrico Boone, Jeroen van Craenenbroeck, James Griffiths, Kyle Johnson, Marjo van Koppen, Anikó Lipták, Jason Merchant, Andrés Saab, Bobby Ruijgrok, Erik Schoorlemmer, Gary Thoms, Mark de Vries

Important Dates:

Abstract submission deadline: 15 June 2013
Notification of acceptance: 15 July 2013
Conference dates: 20-21 September 2013

Organizing Committee:

Enrico Boone, Anikó Lipták and Bobby Ruijgrok


Anderbois, Scott. 2011. Issues and alternatives. PhD dissertation, University of California, Santa Cruz.

Arregui, Ana, Clifton, Charles, Frazier, Lyn and Keir Moulton. 2006. Processing elided VPs with flawed antecedents: the recycling hypothesis. Journal of Memory and Language 55(2): 232-246.

Baltin, Mark. 2012. Deletion vs. pro-forms: An overly simple dichotomy? Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 30:381-423.

Chung, Sandra. 2006. Sluicing and the lexicon: The point of no return. Proceedings of the annual meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society 31, 73-91.

Chung, Sandra. 2013. Syntactic identity in sluicing: how much and why. Linguistic Inquiry 44: 1, 1-44.

Chung, Sandra, William A. Ladusaw, and James McCloskey. 1995. Sluicing and Logical Form. Natural Language Semantics 3:239-282.

Craenenbroeck, Jeroen van. 2010. Invisible Last Resort. a note on clefts as the underlying source for sluicing. Lingua 120, 1714-1726.

Dalrymple, Mary, Stuart M. Shieber, and Fernando C. N. Pereira. 1991. Ellipsis and higher-order unification. Linguistics and Philosophy 14, 399-452.

Fiengo, Robert, and Robert May. 1994. Indices and identity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Ginzburg, Jonathan, and Ivan Sag. 2000. Interrogative investigations. Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications.

Hardt, Daniel. 1993. Verb phrase ellipsis: Form, meaning, and processing. Doctoral dissertation, University of Pennsylvania.

Johnson, Kyle. 2012. The identity condition in ellipsis. Lecture handouts, Leiden University.

Kehler, Andrew. 2002. Coherence in discourse. Stanford, Calif.: CSLI Publications.

Kim, Christina, Gregory M. Kobele, Jeffrey T. Runner, and John T. Hale. 2012. The acceptability cline in VP ellipsis. Syntax 14, 318-354.

Lasnik, Howard. 1995. Verbal Morphology: Syntactic Structures Meets the Minimalist Program. In Kempchinsky and Campos (eds.). Evolution and Revolution in Linguistic Theory: Essays in Honor of Carlos Otero. Georgetown: Georgetown University Press.

Mechant, Jason. 2001. The syntax of silence: Sluicing, islands, and the theory of ellipsis. Oxford University Press.

Merchant, Jason. 2005. Revisiting syntactic identity conditions. Handout, Workshop on Ellipsis, University of California, Berkeley, 8 October.

Merchant, Jason. 2008. An asymmetry in voice mismatches in VP-ellipsis and pseudogapping. Linguistic Inquiry 39, 169-179.

Merchant, Jason. 2013. Voice and Ellipsis. Linguistic Inquiry 44, 77-108.

Potsdam, Eric. 2007. Malagasy sluicing and its consequences for the identity requirement on ellipsis. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 25:577-613.

Sag, Ivan. 1976. Deletion and Logical Form. Doctoral dissertation, MIT, Cambridge, MA.

Sag, Ivan, and Jorge Hankamer. 1984. Toward a theory of anaphoric processing. Linguistics and Philosophy 7:325–345.

Vicente, Luis. 2008. Syntactic isomorphism and non-isomorphism under ellipsis. Unpublished manuscript

Warner, Anthony. 1985. The structure of English auxiliaries: A phrase structure grammar. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Linguistics Club.

Williams, Edwin. 1977. Discourse and Logical Form. Linguistic Inquiry 8:101-139.

Page Updated: 21-Mar-2013