Ellipsis and Information Structure: Evidence from Persian
Vahideh Rasekhi
August 2018

In this dissertation, adopting Rizzi’s (1997) Split-CP hypothesis, I provide a unified account for various elliptical structures in Persian on the basis of the interaction between information structure and ellipsis licensing feature bundles. I argue that ellipsis is constrained by information structure, in particular topic and focus. Only the elements that carry contrastive topic or contrastive focus features can survive ellipsis while the other elements are elided under identity with their corresponding elements in the antecedent clause. I discuss Merchant’s (2001) theory of ellipsis, in which the elements that survive ellipsis have a focus feature, and show that his approach cannot account for the Persian data. I argue that it is contrast that saves elements from being elided. To account for elliptical constructions in Persian, I propose the Contrast Condition on Ellipsis, which has three conditions: i) Ellipsis Condition: ellipsis is possible only in contexts in which an element in a sentence involving ellipsis contrasts with its corresponding element in the antecedent clause, ii) Identity Condition on the Remnant: the element that survives ellipsis must be in a contrastive relationship with its correlate and they must have identical information structure, and iii) Identity Condition on the Elided Elements: an element can be elided only if it is identical to its corresponding element in the antecedent clause. Regarding licensing ellipsis, I propose that ellipsis in Persian is licensed by the heads that have a focus feature, i.e. Foc(us) head, Pol(arity) head and Int(errogative) head. The proposed licensing heads are the result of the restrictions on the feature bundles that are possible in Persian. The [E] feature (Merchant 2001), which licenses the deletion of its complement at the PF level, can bundle with i) a strong uninterpretable contrastive focus [ConF] feature, [E, uConF*], ii) a strong uninterpretable [wh] feature, [E, uwh*], and iii) an uninterpretable [Pol] feature, [E, uPol].The [uConF*] and [uwh*] features trigger the movement of the elements with interpretable [wh] and [ConF] features out of the phrase that is specified for deletion. On the other hand, the [uPol] feature is satisfied by having a polarity marker in the Spec of PolP. The polarity marker can be affirmative or negative, depending on the polarity of the preceding clause. Based on the proposed theory, I study various elliptical structures in Persian. In chapters 2 and 3, I provide an in depth analysis of Verb-stranding and Stripping constructions with negation, respectively. In chapter 4, I provide an overview of Why-stripping, What-stripping, Cherā-stripping, Gapping, Sluicing, Fragment Answers, and Noun Phrase Ellipsis.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004175
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Stony Brook University Dissertation
keywords: persian, ellipsis, information structure, contrast, focus, topic, stripping, bare argument ellipsis, verb-stranding ellipsis, wh-stripping, why-stripping, sluicing, gapping, noun phrase ellipsis, fragment answers, syntax
previous versions: v1 [August 2018]
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