Syntax of "either" in "either…or…" sentences
Danfeng Wu
September 2020

I propose an analysis of "either" in "either...or..." sentences that suggests a broader generalization about the syntax of all focus-sensitive operators. I argue that "either" originates inside the disjunction phrase, c-commanding the leftmost contrastive focus. Then it is internally merged as the sister of the disjunction phrase. Either copy of "either" may be pronounced. When "either" appears higher than the sister of the disjunction phrase, bare argument ellipsis has occurred in the second disjunct. This analysis of "either" is consonant with the generalization that all focus-sensitive operators occupy two positions in a sentence (e.g. Cable (2007), Hirsch (2017), and Quek and Hirsch (2017)). If this analysis of "either" is correct, then it not only indicates that "either" is a focus-sensitive operator, but also adds another data point to this universal generalization.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004430
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Manuscript
keywords: syntax, either, or, disjunction, coordination, focus, focus-sensitive operator, islands, ellipsis, only, question-particle, syntax
previous versions: v3 [October 2019]
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