Syntax of Ellipsis in
proposal aims to investigate the syntax of ellipsis in Jordanian Arabic (JA) concentrating
on verb phrase ellipsis, sluicing, negative contrast and stripping. Not much research
has been conducted to study elliptical structures in Jordanian Arabic. Therefore,
this study provides a detailed description of these phenomena from a generative
Ellipsis refers to is a phenomenon of
overt syntax involving erasure. As indicated by Smith (2001), ellipsis cannot
be effortlessly arranged since it incorporates phonology (as it is like
deaccenting), linguistic structure (by uprightness of its distribution,
semantics (confirm by its evident licensing conditions), and pragmatics (on
account of the cognitive load it forces)’. The focal question as for ellipsis
is its linguistic representation.
into two approaches in relation to ellipses linguistic representation, Deletion
and Non-Deletion approaches. Non-Deletion approach argues that ellipses constructions
are empty categories (null elements) which are then filled in through a copy
operation in the logical component as illustrated in (1a) (Lobeck 1995; Fortin
2007). On the other hand, the deletion approach proponents argue that ellipsis
is syntactically represented but deleted at the PF (Phonetic Form) interface. That
is, it has linguistic structure however not a phonological representation as
illustrated in (1b) (Chomsky & Lasnik, 1993; Aelbrecht, 2010).
(1). George likes winning votes as much as Al
(1a). George likes winning votes as much as Al does VP V
(1b). George likes winning votes as much as Al does like winning
This proposition expects to investigate
the syntax of various sorts of ellipsis in Jordanian Arabic. In particular,
it’s concerned with verb phrase ellipsis, sluicing, negative contrast and stripping.
In spite of being widely studied in languages such as English, Greek and
Spanish, these types of ellipsis, to the best of the researcher’s knowledge, few
studies have been conducted to investigate Jordanian Arabic (Malkawi, 2015) and
it examined just the VP ellipses; In
this manner, the present study provides complete description of these ellipsis phenomena of
Jordanian Arabic from a generative perspective.
1.2 The data
The data used as a part of this research will represent different
varieties of urban Jordanian Arabic. It will be judged by native speakers of
Jordanian Arabic. Informants will be encouraged to read different elliptical
constructions and provide their judgements of grammaticality. The following is
a concise description of data on ellipsis discussed in this study.
Sluicing is a sort
of ellipsis and it may take place in direct and indirect interrogative clauses.
The ellipsis is presented by a wh-expression, whereby in most cases, everything
with the exception of wh-expression is omitted from the clause as clarified in the cases underneath (2):
(2) Ahmad ?kl shi:
, bs msh ?aref
3ms something, but not knows 1ms what.
Ahmed ate something, but I don’t know what.
1.2.2 VP ellipsis
VP ellipsis or
(VPE) is a syntactic structure in which a non-finite verb phrase has been left out
(elided).Verb phrase ellipsis involves the deletion of an whole verb phrase. Two
instances of verb phrase related ellipsis can be discussed; one is licensed by
the modal verb y?gder/ momken ‘can’ and the other
is licensed by main verbs, as outlined (2).
ennu Khaled t?a?a ?ibne, o Rami ___ burger.
Say-3fs-PER Khaled eat-dinner.3ms-PER cheese, and Rami burger.
‘She said that Khaled ate cheese, and Rami ate burger
1.2.3 Negative Contrast and Stripping
and Stripping include sentential ellipsis omitting the entire clause with the
exception of a remnant which is normally accompanied by a focusing adverb in
the former and a negative particle in the latter. These two forms of clausal
ellipsis, i.e. stripping and negative contrast, can be can be examined in this study.
They are exemplified in (4) and (5) respectively.
(4) ?na bdi? ?safer ?-br?t?an?a? aw ??tmal
want travel to-Britain,
and probably Mohammad too
I want to travel to Britain and Mohammad
will probably do that too
(5) xalad ra? ?l-d?am?a? m? ?l-cinema
Xalad went to-university not to-Cinema
Xalad went to the
university, not to the cinema
1.3 Issues of the Study
The present study, aside from describing
the ellipsis phenomena expressed above, attempts to discuss and represent the
1.3.1 Sluicing vs Pseudosluicing
Sluicing and pseudosluicing are indistinct
in a few contexts in Jordanian Arabic, Pseudosluicing is defined as ‘an
elliptical construction that resembles a sluice in having only a wh-XP as
remnant, but has the structure of a cleft, not of a regular embedded question’
(Merchant 1998: 91).
zar wa?ad bs m? ?araf
Ahmed visited someone
but not know who
visited someone but I don’t know who
Ahmed zar wa?ad bs m? ?araf
mi?n zar Ahmad
someone but not know who visited ahmad
someone but I don’t know who he had visited
Ahmed zar wa?ad bs m? ?araf
mi?n alli: ahmad
someone but not know who that ahmad visited
someone but not know who that ahmad visited
Along these lines, this study goes for
researching the sluicing phenomenon and determining whether what appear as
sluicing in the language are cases of
sluicing or pseudosluicing.
1.3.2 Verb Phrase Ellipsis
Two sorts of verb expression ellipsis will
be discussed in this proposal: modal ellipsis and verb-stranding VP ellipsis. The
previous includes deletion of the complement of a modal verb, while the last
erases the internal arguments of the lexical verb, which is raised to T and
survives erasure. The phenomenon of modal ellipsis has been found in languages
such as French, Spanish, Italian and Dutch.
Modal ellipsis can be analyzed as VP
deletion (Johnson, 2001), an ellipsis site
containing a ‘null pro-form’ with no internal syntax (Depiante, 2001), or a type of modal ellipsis that elides a TP
constituent, as in Dutch (Aelbrecht, 2010). In
this study, I intend to discuss the syntax of modal ellipsis in Jordanian
Arabic and aim to determine whether it involves VP or TP ellipsis and whether
it can be analyzed as a PF deletion process or merely as a null proform
1.3.3 Stripping and Negative Contrast
This study will discuss also the syntax of
negative contrast and stripping and their interaction with information
structure. Both have been analyzed as a process of deletion of a sentential
portion preceded by remnant movement to the left periphery (Merchant, 2004). The study discusses these two sorts of
ellipsis and attempts to decide whether or not they can be derived by movement
and deletion and how each interacts with information structure.
1.4 Objectives and Significance of the Study
To the best of the researcher’s knowledge,
this dissertation represents the first comprehensive description of sluicing, of
stripping and negative contrast in Jordanian Arabic, which in itself can be
considered as a contribution to the understanding of the syntax of the
language. In particular, the study presents and analyzes these sorts of
ellipsis and shows how each is manifested in the language. Overall, the study
(a) Give a description of sluicing and decide if what shows up sluicing in the
language are instances of sluicing (elliptical wh-questions) or pseudosluicing
(b) Provide a description and analysis of modal
ellipsis and verb-stranding VP Ellipsis.
(c) Provide a description and analysis of stripping
and negative contrast and their interaction with information structure.
2. Ellipses in Syntactic Theory
Ellipsis is amongst the most debated
topics in syntactic theory. In this manner, the researcher will review the
theories proposed to clarify ellipsis phenomena, introduces ellipsis and
briefly discusses its distinctive sorts, surveys different approaches to
ellipsis, specifically structural vs. non-structural approaches.
2.1 Defining ellipsis
Lobeck (1995: 20) characterizes ellipsis as the “omission of a syntactic
constituent under identity with an antecedent in the preceding discourse”.
Ellipsis can be sub-categorised into various
types, depending on the category targeted by omission. The following are
outlines of different ellipsis constructions.
(7) Jane met
someone, but I can’t remember who.
(8) Yasin bought a
new house, and Ali did too.
(9) Robin will eat
rutabagas, but she won’t eat ice cream.
(10) John read a
novel and Mary a magazine.
(11) Jane likes
watching TV and Mary too.
(12) The fact that
John’s e was poorly presented made the committee adopt Mary’s analysis
instead. (Lobeck 1995: 42)
2.2 Non-Structural Approach vs. Structural
2.2.1 Non-Structural Approach
The non-structural approach contends
against positing a structure in ellipsis at any level of representation. Otherwise
stated, there is no more structure than what is articulated. There are several
arguments in favour of this non-elliptical approach. For instance, the short
answers in (14) are argued to include no ellipsis.
(14) Who ate the
The pronouns in (14a) surface in the
accusative case despite the fact they agree with subject pronouns. The nonappearance
of structural nominative case, which is assigned in T, is considered by
Provagoc (2006) as a sign that such a fragment answer is not a TP. In this
manner, the short answer in (14a) is analyzed as a phrasal projection smaller
than a TP.
The fact that the NPs ‘me/him/them’
surface in the (default) accusative case is attributed to the absence of a
tense projection in the structure. The argument is that these pronouns are
selected with the default case feature; therefore, they are legitimate objects
and they do not contain any uninterpretable feature. The ungrammaticality of (14b)
is on account of the pronouns ‘I/he/they’ contain unchecked nominative case
features. Conversely, the fact that a subject pronoun in an answer such as ‘I
did’ surfaces in the nominative case is expected given that nominative case
assignment requires a tensed component (Provagoc 2006)
2.2.2 Structural Approach
Structural approaches adapt a structure in
the site of ellipsis. Nonetheless, they disagree with respect to the syntactic
representation assigned to ellipsis. Some approaches accpept that ellipsis site
contains null elements; others argue for a fully-fledged syntactic structure in
ellipsis. Here, three proposed explanations of the ellipsis phenomenon will be surveyed,
namely the preform and LF copy theories.
188.8.131.52 The Null Proform Theory
This hypothesis assumes that ellipsis enclose
a null category, the null proform, drawn from the lexicon. This pro-form is deciphered
by semantic means in a way like that of
overt pronouns since ellipsis shows likenesses with pronouns in terms of
distribution and interpretation (Lobeck 1995). The typical argument for the
pro-theory is the perception that
ellipsis sites, just like pronouns, take into account split antecedents in
which the ellipsis is interpreted as having more than just one antecedent).
This is illustrated by the examples (15) and (16), attributed to
Bonnie Weber by
Johnson (2001:472) :
(15) Johni told
Billj that theyi+j should leave together.
(16) Wendy is
eager to sail around the world and Bruce is eager to climb
neither of them can ? because money is too tight.
In (15), ellipsis is comprehended as
having multiple antecedents, much the same as regular pronouns, which are
identified with an antecedent, as in (16). The elliptical VP in (16) does not
have the meaning of any of the antecedent VPs; instead, it is interpreted with
reference to the two VPs as ‘to sail around the world or climb Kilimanjaro’ (Johnson
184.108.40.206 The LF Copy Theory
The LF copy theory views ellipsis as a
null proform into which the antecedent is copied at LF in order to ensure that
the null category is provided with the correct interpretation (Fortin, 2007). Subsequently,
the ellipsis site in the sluicing case in (19) contains a null TP spelled out
as a null category. For full interpretation to proceed, the antecedent is
copied into the null category at LF, giving the right interpretation.
(17) John met someone, but I don’t
who IP e.
L. (2010) The Syntactic Licensing of Ellipsis. Amsterdam: John
A. M. (2012). The syntax of ellipsis in Libyan Arabic: a generative analysis of
sluicing, VP ellipsis, stripping and negative contrast (Unpublished master’s
thesis). UK / Newcastle University .
– Aoun, J. E., Benmamoun, E.,
& Choueiri, L. (2009). The syntax of arabic. New York: Cambridge
– Carnie, A., & Fehri, A. F. (1996). Issues in the
structure of arabic clauses and words. Language, 72(3), 664.
N. & Lasnik, H. (1993) Principles and parameters theory. In Jacobs, J. von
Stechow, A., Sternefield, W. & Vannemann, T. (eds.) Syntax: An International
Handbook of Contemporary Research, 506-569. Berlin: de Gruyter.
M. (2001) On null complement anaphora in Spanish and Italian. Probus 13:
– Etxeberria, Urtzi & Anastasia Ginnakidou. 2010. Contextual
domain restriction, familiarity and definiteness:
a cross-linguistic perspective. available from : http://www.iker.cnrs.fr/IMG/pdf/giannaki&etxebe2010.pdf
C. (2007) Indonesian Sluicing and Verb Phrase Ellipsis. PhD
dissertation, University of Michigan.
– Haegeman, L. (1991). Introduction to government
and binding theory. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers.
K. (2001) What VP-ellipsis can do, and what it can’t, but not why. In Baltin,
M. & Collins, C. (eds.). The Handbook of Contemporary Syntactic Theory,
439-479. Oxford: Blackwell.
– Kroeger, P. R. (2005). Analyzing grammar: An
introduction (3rd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
A. (1995) Ellipsis: Functional Heads, Licensing, and Identification.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
D. (2015) VP Ellipsis in Jordanian Arabic : minimalist approach. Unpublished
J. (1998) Pseudosluicing: elliptical clefts in Japanese and English. In
Alexiadou, A., Fuhrhop, N., Law, P. & Kleinhenz, U. (eds.) ZAS Working
Papers in Linguistics 10. Zentrum f?r Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft,
J. (2001) The Syntax of Silence: Sluicing, Islands, and the Theory of
Ellipsis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
J. (2004) Fragments and ellipsis. Linguistics and Philosophy 27: 661-
L. (2006) The syntax of nonsententials: Small clauses and phrases at the root.
In Progovac, L. Paesani, K., Casielles, E. & Barton, E. (eds.) The
Syntax of Non-sententials: multidisciplinary perspectives,33-71.
Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
– Radford, A. (1997). Syntax: A minimalist
introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
N. (2001) Ellipsis happens, and deletion is how. University of Maryland
Working Papers in Linguistics 11: 176-191.
(2016, August 04). Retrieved April 02, 2017, from
– Tallerman, M. (2014). Understanding syntax
(4th ed.). London, United Kingdom: Routledge.