The Syntax of Silence: Sluicing, Islands, and the Theory of Ellipsis - Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics 1 (Paperback)
  • The Syntax of Silence: Sluicing, Islands, and the Theory of Ellipsis - Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics 1 (Paperback)
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The Syntax of Silence: Sluicing, Islands, and the Theory of Ellipsis - Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics 1 (Paperback)

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Paperback 278 Pages / Published: 16/08/2001
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Two of the best studied and most intriguing areas in syntax and semantics are ellipsis and wh-movement, and although these areas have generated immense interest individually, their intersection-in elliptical wh-questions known as sluicing-has remained largely neglected. This book fills that gap. It does so on the basis of the most sustained empirical investigation of sluicing ever conducted, drawing on novel data from thirty languages that give rise to a number of surprising and theoretically-challenging generalizations. The author shows that sluicing structures are crucial to answering the fundamental questions about the nature of ellipsis: how ellipsis is resolved, whether there is syntactic structure internal to the ellipsis site, and whether the identity requirement on ellipsis is syntactic or semantic. The author proposes a new and elegant theory of ellipsis based on semantic identity, and shows how this theory overcomes problems encountered by common alternatives based on syntactic isomorphism. He posits that ellipsis sites are syntactically complete, though unpronounced, and provides a novel account of how a semantic theory of ellipsis is compatible with syntactic deletion. The facts of sluicing argue also that our conception of islandhood must be refined in fundamental ways, leading to a pluralistic view of islands, with wh-movement extraction deviancies distributed over different components of the grammar. This work sheds new light on some of the most central and long-standing questions in the study of ellipsis and wh-movement, and has important implications for understanding the relations between syntax and semantics. Jason Merchant writes accessibly for linguists of all schools and persuasions. The issues he addresses will interest theoreticians and typologists, especially syntacticians, semanticists, and those interested in the syntax-semantics interface.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199243723
Number of pages: 278
Weight: 415 g
Dimensions: 234 x 157 x 16 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
This is the most comprehensive study of Sluicing to date, and clears up one of its central mysteries: how do sluices evade standard island effects. Merchant brings together extensive comparative work with a careful examination of the syntax-semantics interface, and unveils a completely new typology of island effects. This brilliant work will be the touchstone for research on ellipsis and islands for years to come. * Kyle Johnson, University of Massachusetts at Amherst *
This book is a clearly written, very interesting exploration of sluicing. The author presents a number of well argued, novel ideas, and sheds new light on our understanding of a phenomenon linguists have been studying for quite a while. The author has done an excellent job in also providing a thorough overview of previous approaches, and in explaining how his analysis builds on and/or diverges from them. This is definitely a very important contribution to the field. * Anne Lobeck, English Department, Western Washington University *
The Syntax of Silence, based on Jason Merchant's excellent PhD dissertation (1999), is a major contribution to our understanding of ellipsis. It is the most important work on the sluicing ellipsis construction since Ross's seminal 1969 article, and it is the most detailed examination ever of this fascinating ellipsis construction. * Language *

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