Scopability and sluicing

Chris Barker

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper analyzes sluicing as anaphora to an anti-constituent (a continuation), that is, to the semantic remnant of a clause from which a subconstituent has been removed. For instance, in Mary said that [John saw someone yesterday], but she didn't say who, the antecedent clause is John saw someone yesterday, the subconstituent targeted for removal is someone, and the ellipsis site following who is anaphoric to the scope remnant John saw ___ yesterday. I provide a compositional syntax and semantics on which the relationship between the targeted subconstituent and the rest of the antecedent clause is one of scopability, not movement or binding. This correctly predicts that sluicing should be sensitive to scope islands, but not to syntactic islands. Unlike the currently dominant approaches to sluicing, there is no need to posit syntactic structure internal to the ellipsis site, nor is there any need for a semantic mutual-entailment requirement. Nevertheless, the fragment handles phenomena usually taken to suggest a close syntactic correspondence between the antecedent and the sluice, including case matching, voice matching, and verbal argument structure matching. In addition, the analysis handles phenomena exhibiting antecedent/sluice mismatches, including examples such as John remembers meeting someone, but he doesn't remember who, [InlineMediaObject not available: see fulltext.], and especially so-called sprouting examples such as John left, but I don't know when, in which there is no overt subconstituent to target for removal. In Sect. 5, I show how the analysis accounts for Andrews Amalgams such as Sally ate [I don't know what] today, in which the antecedent surrounds the sluiced clause. Finally, in Sect. 6, I propose a new semantic constraint on sluicing: the Answer Ban, which says that the antecedent clause must not resolve, or even partially resolve, the issue raised by the sluiced interrogative.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)187-223
    Number of pages37
    JournalLinguistics and Philosophy
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - May 2013


    • Amalgams
    • Anaphora
    • Continuations
    • Focus
    • Scopability
    • Scope
    • Sluicing
    • Sprouting
    • Type logical grammar

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Philosophy
    • Linguistics and Language


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