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Structural economy in the processing and representation Of gapping sentences

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The processing of ellipsis sentences can provide clues to their structure, as their structure can influence their processing. We present two studies examining the processing of a previously unexplored subclass of ellipsis sentence, gapping sentences in which one of the remnants is a preposed PP (PPGs). Like some other gapping structures, PPGs are ambiguous between readings in which a DP remnant is interpreted as a subject or as an object. However, we find that PPGs exhibit a weaker and more flexible object bias than other ambiguous gapping sentences ( Carlson 2001a, 2002), one comparable to clausal ellipsis constructions like comparatives and replacives. We argue that this result supports the syntactic assumption that gapping is a nonuniform phenomenon: PPGs involve clausal conjunction on either reading, much like comparative ellipsis, while regular gapping has a nonellipsis alternative ( Johnson 1996), which underlies the strong preference for an object reading.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Katy Carlson Morehead State University 419 Combs, EFLP Department Morehead, KY 40351 USA, Email: [email protected] 2: Michael Walsh Dickey Northwestern University Aphasia & Neurolinguistics Research Laboratory Dept. of Communication Sciences & Disorders 2240 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208-3066 USA, Email: [email protected] 3: Christopher Kennedy University of Chicago Department of Linguistics 1010 E 59th Street Chicago, IL 60637 USA, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: December 1, 2005

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