Common approaches to ellipsis posit one of two kinds of identity between elided material and some local antecedent: syntactic or semantic. When this identity is present, the ellipsis is allowed, and not otherwise. The fact that mismatches in voice between antecedent and elided material are sometimes allowed poses problems for both theories. A third, hybrid approach -- the discourse-based approach in Kehler (2000) -- explains these facts by reference to coherence relations between antecedent and elided material. In this study, we present experimental evidence from an acceptability judgment task carried out on Amazon Mechanical Turk to show that (i) a syntactic identity condition cannot be totally replaced by discourse conditions; syntactic identity plays a critical role in licensing ellipsis when the crucial notion of size is taken into account; (ii) discourse effects do modulate the acceptability of small ellipses, but not big.
Proceedings of the 30th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Nathan Arnett and Ryan Bennett
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